Agua fresca to Latinos is what lemonade is to gringos. We remember cooling off on a hot summer day with a fresh glass of agua de sandía or agua de pepino. Now that we’re grown up, we still crave the same fruit drinks but we need a kick to end our day. These alcohol-infused agua fresca recipes hit the spot. Spike your preferred agua with tequila, rum or your liquor of choice. Your childhood favorite will become your new go-to adult beverage.
There are few hard and fast rules on how to make delicious carne asada. Over its long history as carnivorous Latinos’ favorite meaty treat, carne asada has been through many transformations. If you’re making carne asada for the first time there are three key things you must know.
Sure your papa or tío probably shared their wisdom with you but here is our some of ours.
First, the cut of beef (skirt or flank) must be marinated and seasoned by a pro. Second, the meat must be cooked on a grill or skillet that’s so hot it screams. And third, the meat must be properly rested and thinly sliced before serving.
With the ground rules out the way, here are 15 carne asada recipes guaranteed to get you drooling before you know it.
1) The Simple Carne Asada
There are many ways to make a carne asada marinade but many swear by simplicity. At it’s most basic, a simple carne asada marinade is made from oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and lime juice. Nothing more. Let the meat chill in the marinade for at least 4 hours and return to room temperature before you slap it on the grill.
2) The Classic Carne Asada
There’s simple and then there’s classic. This carne asada recipe from Isabel Eats follows the recipe the author remembers from her childhood. To the oil, lime, garlic, and seasoning in the simple marinade above, Isabel adds a good handful of chopped cilantro, a chopped jalapeno, white wine vinegar, chilli powder, dried oregano, and cumin.
3) Carne Asada with a Citrus Punch
This crowd-sourced recipe for carne asada takes the basic carne asada marinade above and adds a whole host of other flavors, including a major glug of citrus juice. Lime juice, lemon juice, and orange juice go into this marinade, along with chopped chipotle pepper, coriander seeds and cumin. This recipe recommends flank steak or skirt steak and suggests you regularly massage the meat while it’s marinating!
4) Port Wine and Ginger Carne Asada
Ever thought about adding a ¼ cup of honey, some grated ginger and a cup of port wine to your carne asada marinade? Well now’s the time to give it a try! This recipe for flank steak with a port wine marinade is essentially port wine carne asada. Searing the meat on a smoking hot outside grill cooks the wine off nicely, leaving a sticky, sweet coating behind.
5) Spicy Carne Asada with Fish Sauce
According to the author, this Mexico-inspired carne asada from A Spicy Perspective is a fast, healthy low-carb meal. This recipe is also packed with flavor and easy to prepare. For this marinade, you need to add ancho chilli powder and habanero chiles to the usual ingredients like garlic, cilantro, and lime. These two types of chilli give the recipe a kick. But it’s the addition of fish sauce that adds a vivid umami flavor to the meat that will have your guests coming back to the grill for second and third helpings.
6) Carne Asada Tacos
And now, a true Mexican rule to live by. If in doubt, put it in a taco. The Food Network recommends marinating your steak in a simple Mojo (marinade) that includes two tablespoons of white vinegar and a whole jalapeno for 8 hours. Any more and the meat begins to break down and loses its texture. Once cooked, pile the meat on top of warmed tortillas, sprinkle with lettuce, onion, and cheese and finish with Pico de Gallo salsa.
7) Roy Choi’s Carne Asada
Now we’re going to get a little fancy with this take on carne asada from LA chef and Kogi BBQ founder Roy Choi. A number of ingredients set this recipe apart. Take the classic carne asada recipe, lose the cumin and oregano and add mirin, beer, chopped tomato, and onion. Roy recommends a coal-fired grill to get a good crisp on the outer edges of the meat.
8) Carne Asada with Soy Sauce
This popular recipe from Chungah at Damn Delicious keeps things simple but adds one key ingredient – soy sauce. Seasoning is a very important and every good carne asada cook has a salt grinder on hand. But soy sauce adds a richer flavor that cannot be achieved through salt alone. Chungah quite rightly uses flank steak and cooks the meat for only six minutes to keep the dish nice and rare.
9) Vegan Jackfruit Carne Asada
For our vegan friends, this carne asada recipe replaces beef steak with jackfruit. Jackfruit is a tropical fruit native to South India that has a fibrous, meaty texture when cooked. Shredded jackfruit often pops up on vegan menus as an alternative to pulled pork but when doused in a spicy citrus marinade it can pass for a tasty vegan carne asada! This recipe recommends baking the jackfruit, rather than grilling it but throwing the marinated fruit on the grill should work just as well.
10) Carne Asada Salad
Carne asada goes beautifully with fresh salad vegetables. This salad recipe from Skinny Taste shows you how to incorporate juicy strip steak into a fresh summer salad. The carne asada is treated to a simple marinade and grilled in the usual way. Once rested and sliced, the meat is thrown onto a bed of salad leaves, covered with homemade Pico de Gallo and doused with the juice of an entire lime.
11) Carne Asada Fries
Everything in moderation. If you’re eating the salad, you can also eat the fries! To make carne asada fries, prepare a half portion of carne asada using the classic carne asada recipe above (number 2). Make a batch of fries; either from scratch using russet potatoes and a deep fryer or by short cut using oven fries. Sprinkle grated cheese and a teaspoon of paprika over the fries, pile on the carne asada and finish with a dollop of guacamole. Heaven.
12) Carne Asada Burrito Casserole
Trust Lifehacker to come up with a recipe you didn’t know you wanted. Essentially a layered casserole with carne asada and all the ingredients you’d need for a burrito cooked together in the oven, this carne asada burrito casserole is not elegant but it sure is tasty.
13) Carne Asada con Rajas
Food52 enjoys its carne asada con rajas, which means carne asada with sliced peppers. The most refined recipe on this list, carne asada con rajas requires a fairly complex marinade that includes brown sugar, cumin, and ancho chilli powder. Once the steak has been marinated, cooked and rested, you can start on the rajas. Saute poblano pepper and onions in olive oil, add minced garlic then finish with fresh oregano and a dollop of heavy cream.
14) Keto Carne Asada and Chimichurri
If you’re following a keto, low carb, paleo or dairy-free diet, this recipe is the one for you. This keto carne asada marinadefeatures healthy ingredients like avocado oil, cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper and the side of Chimichurri sauce is much lighter than the usual sides of rice and tortillas. Net carbs per serving: 0g!
15) The Ultimate Carne Asada
And to finish, the ultimate carne asada recipe from Serious Eats. This recipe combines everything we’ve learned from the recipes above and incorporates it into the ultimate carne asada experience. Three types of fresh chilli (ancho, guajillo, chipotle), a whole load of citrus, soy sauce and fish sauce go into this marinade. The result is a slab of grilled meat that’s buttery, salty, sweet and absolutely delicious.
Latin American food is one of the richest in the world. It is the product of processes of colonization and cultural mishmash: indigenous ingredients and techniques, European complexity, African spice. Latin American food has it all and people the world over visit the region to taste both top restaurants and street staples that have survived for generations.
Here are a few of our many favorites, 17 dishes that preserve the colorful soul of the continent and the deceptive simplicity of highly complex creations. Buen provecho.
1. Not all tacos are created equal
Credit: Instagram. @trent_lindo
Oh, the wonderful taco, the epitome of Mexican food. The taco is a miracle of history: the corn from Meso American cultures, the fillings from animals brought by the Spanish and all tied together by the influence of Middle Eastern cuisine, which uses grilled meets and pita breads as staples. Tacos are miraculous and surprisingly healthy. Sometimes chefs get their fancy on and create authentic rainbows of gorgeous smells and flavors like this lobster and black bean variation. Very Baja! Yummo!
2. Some ceviches are prettier than others
Credit: Instagram. @naokoterada_happytravels
Ceviche is to Peruvian food what tacos are for Mexican cuisine. The Peruvian restaurant Astrid and Gaston, which often appears in the lists of top restaurants of the world, has achieved visual and culinary perfection with these little bowls of joy and beauty. Just look at the colors basically piercing our eyes and our souls.
3. Enrique Olvera, the superstar Mexican chef, is a Michaelangelo of the kitchen
Credit: Instagram. @promisetowrite
Enrique Olvera has taken Mexican food to the next level in his restaurants, particularly Pujol, which is often ranked among the best 15 in the world. Just look at these works of art. The darker mole in the middle of the last row has been simmering for years. Yes, literally for years! It is such a treat.
4. Ice cream macarons from a legendary Peruvian restaurant? Foodgasm alert!
Credit: Instagram. @devora
Astrid and Gaston again! But how could we not include these ice cream macarons, a very unique take on a classic from French patisserie? They have very Peruvian flavors, with local fruits being the core of the palette. Oh my, just by looking at them we start salivating.
5. Fried piranha skins are always pretty in a baroque kind of way
Credit: Instagram. @laurenfensterstock
Virgilio Martinez is the new superstar of Peruvian food. He travels his country in search of new and exciting ingredients, and his degustation menu is a trip through the geography of the South American country. He loves to surprise and confront, and what better way to do this than presenting the patron with a deconstructed piranha. It is beautiful just like bloody baroque art is: art is sometimes violent and decadent in its depth.
6. Quinoa never looked so chingonamente hermosa
Credit: Instagram. @thru.iphone
Among the ingredients that Virgilio has made his own is quinoa, the ancient grain that has fed indigenous Peruvians for centuries and that is now a staple of hipster food, even though its mass consumption means that many poor Peruvians can’t afford it now. Here it is presented in a dignified, natural, deliciously primal state.
7. When the plate is a canvas and ingredients a work of art
Credit: Instagram. @hungrysu
And really, we can’t think of a more exciting foodie destination in Latin America than Central. Just look at this plate, the colors, the perfect harmony and exciting combination of textures. If it is as pleasing to the taste as it is to the sight, we are all in.
8. No mordida on our cakes, please
Credit: Instagram. @unforgedible_Art
We couldn’t help but to include this cute and deceptively simple llama cake. It is a work of art that respects tradition, evades cultural appropriation and is just testament of a baking virtuoso. No mordida here, please…. you might be poked by that cactus!
9. A classic sculpture of culinary genius: mango with chilito
Credit: Instagram. @marylinmelissa
Not all gorgeous food needs to be fancy or high end. A staple of Mexican street food that has migrated to the Southern United States is luscious and it basically makes our culinary desire salivate. A simple fruit like mango is cut in intricate flower-like shapes and crowned by that proof of the existence of beauty: Tajin.
10. What? Mexican sushi? You bet, compa!
Credit: Instagram. @sushiittooficial
Mexicans have made sushi their own for the past two decades. Mexican sushi is unlike any other: it combines Japanese tradition with very local ingredients such as chili and chipotle mayo. Mango and chamoy are also often combined with meats, rice, and seafood. And Mexican sushi chefs sure make sure that it all looks pleasing to the eye and feels soothing to the hungry stomachs and souls of comensales.
11. Brazilians have elevated BBQing to a fine art
Credit: Instagram. @pitmasterbrasil
If you are a carnivore and you have not tasted a traditional Brazilian churrasco, then you are in for a treat. Brazilians sure know how to enjoy life, and getting together over a BBQ is a way of enjoying each other’s company. Brazilian grilled meats are crispy, salty and sooooo pleasing to the eye. Just look at these beauties, perfectly sliced and cooked to absolute perfection.
12. Alfajores are a bite del cielo
Credit: Instagram. @guolis
This Argentinian crumbly pastry filled with dulce de leche are gorgeous in a homey, cozy kind of way. Just by looking at them our hearts melt, become gooey like the dulce de leche that stretches as we sigh in pleasure. Try them for yourself if you don’t believe us.
13. Look at this dulce tradicional mexicano, though
Credit: Instagram. @eraserpens
One of the most overlooked treasures of Mexican cuisine are dulces tradicionales. Take these gummy fruit treats, for example, perfectly laid out in a spiral of sweet delight.
14. Seriously! We are nuts over these palanquetas!
Credit: Instagram. @fafalulu2
Nuts are a staple of Mexican candies. Peanuts, pepitas, and grains like amaranth are all stuck together with honey or piloncillo (cane sugar). These are so popular that you can even buy them from vendors in Mexico City traffic! Put them together, however, and they form an uncanny tapestry of symmetry that you could hang in a museum!
15. We don’t know if we should eat these or hang them on a wall and just admire them
Credit: Instagram. @fafalulu2
OMG! Look at these paletas! No kid can resist to them: they just hypnotize you with their twisty patterns and shiny colors. They speak of the joys of childhood and the talent of dulceros artesanales that are a true treasure of humanity. Everyday creativity on full display.
16. Nopales: the gorgeous green that takes us back to the beginning of time
Credit: Instagram. @sweetmolcajete
Sometimes the prettiest foods are pure ingredients. Take nopales, for example, a type of cactus that has been consumed for centuries. The vibrant greens and their infinite hues seem like an oil paint from Tamayo or Orozco, master painters who translated the palettes of nature onto their canvases.
17. And of course, nothing surpasses the brutal beauty of a trompo de pastor being caressed by fire
Credit: Instagram. @flavorsofjoy
But let’s be honest. Few foods despiertan tantas pasiones like tacos al pastor. They are a full-fledged attack on the senses: visually it is an incandescent carnal treat, its smell elicits dreams and memories, its taste has the perfect balance of sweet, salty and spicy. Doesn’t get any better than this.
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