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How to Pan-Fry Carne Asada

by Chance E. Gartneer

When grilling is not an option, fry up your carne asada on the stovetop. Carne asada, which translates from Spanish as "grilled meat," is a Mexican standard served in restaurants and at barbecues. Although carne asada is traditionally prepared on an outdoor grill or barbecue pit, you can quickly whip it up on your stovetop with a few ingredients and a frying pan. Frying carne asada will not affect the flavors of the cooked steak, which then can be stuffed into your enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas or enjoyed all by itself.

The Meat of It

Good steak makes for good carne asada. Traditionally, recipes call for either skirt or flank steak. Skirt steak comes from the plate area or diaphragm of the cow and is a more flavorful but tougher cut of meat. Flank steak comes from the cow's abdominal region and is less fatty and more tender. Skirt steak may be preferred for its lower price point, but the seasonings used will make the taste difference of the two cuts negligible.

Prepping the Steak

Rub both sides of the steak with chili powder and let the steaks sit for up to half an hour at room temperature, or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. Before frying the steaks, sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Some preparations call for slicing the steak beforehand into 1/2-inch strips and adding 1/4-inch strips of seeded green, yellow and red peppers as well as yellow or white onions.

Fry It Up

Coat the bottom of the frying pan with an oil of your choice -- the traditional choice is vegetable oil, though oils like olive and coconut will also work. Turn the burner to medium-high and let the oil heat until it begins to slightly smoke. Place the steak into the pan, then sprinkle with lime juice. Cook for about four minutes, flip and cook for another four minutes, or until the steak is medium-rare. If preparing carne asada as steak strips, cook until the juice cooks out of the meat, add the peppers and onions, then cover for five more minutes, or until the vegetables are slightly sauteed.

Serving Suggestions

Serve carne asada topped with chimichurri sauce or salsa with a side of Mexican rice and refried beans as a simple and quick meal. If you desire a taco dinner, serve the steak in or with some heated flour or corn tortillas, some freshly chopped cilantro and onions and a choice of either rojo or verde salsa and some guacamole. Other condiments that go well with the steak include fresh avocado slices, ranchero sauce, sour cream and cheddar or Mexican blend shredded cheese.

About the Author

Chance E. Gartneer began writing professionally in 2008 working in conjunction with FEMA. He has the unofficial record for the most undergraduate hours at the University of Texas at Austin. When not working on his children's book masterpiece, he writes educational pieces focusing on early mathematics and ESL topics.

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