Sunday, June 29, 2014

Grilled Steak Tacos with Radish Salsa

As I sit writing, I would normally be in my Sunday morning yoga class, but yesterday I acquired a sunburn so severe that the notion of stretching, bending, and contorting my body made my skin cringe.  The truth is I got sunburned on purpose; I have grown weary of my skin’s pasty hue, and decided this necessitated action.  So on Saturday morning, after my routine yoga class, I donned my bikini, and lay poolside at my gym, exposing my virgin skin to the high noon sun, applying sunscreen only to my face.  Initially, I thought I had achieved a perfect sunburn: one that would help me develop a base for bronzing my skin, but not result in significant discomfort.  I was dead wrong, and as the day wore on, my skin became increasingly red and angry.  Thus, out of fear, I skipped my yoga class, and chose writing as an activity less likely to bring on any additional physical pain.
Salsa ingredients

Unlike my poorly executed tanning plans, these steak tacos with radish salsa fell seamlessly into place.  It is a simple and delightful summer time recipe that I highly recommend.  I found this recipe in the June issue of Bon Appétit.  Though I don’t eat radishes often, the idea of radish salsa complementing thinly sliced steak certainly has a quiet charisma as far as I’m concerned.  The salsa consists of vibrant pink and white radishes tossed with cilantro, scallions, and jalapeno, then dressed in limejuice and olive oil.  The original recipe called for cooking flank steak in a skillet, but this seemed like a misstep to me; the obvious cooking method for this summery dish would be grilling the steak, and this would also allow for a convenient method of heating up the corn tortillas before serving, thus circumventing the use of an indoor heating element. 
Pretty salsa
The finished tacos are of the utmost simplicity: warm corn tortillas, topped with thinly sliced grilled steak, radish salsa, some crumbled cotija cheese, and a few extra cilantro leaves.  Cotija cheese is like a cross between Parmesan and feta: crumbly, salty, and very dry.  It’s less dense than Parmesan, and lacks the brininess of feta.  It worked in this dish, but I would be curious to see how a slightly creamier cheese like queso fresco, or even feta would have worked.  I found the cotija cheese to be a bit dry, both literally and figuratively.
Otherwise, this dish is a winner.  I would recommend making a double batch of the salsa as I would have been happy to pile it higher on my tacos, and I probably would have eaten it with a spoon, if given the opportunity.  As it sat in the fridge for a day or two, the pink hue of the radish skins permeated the salsa.  This a beautiful, delicious, and low maintenance dish.    

Steak Tacos with Radish Salsa (adapted slightly from Bon Appétit, June 2014)

1 lb. flank steak
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, divided
6 radishes, trimmed and chopped
3 scallions, white and light green part, thinly sliced
1/2-1 jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed, finely chopped
Juice of one lime
8 corn tortillas, warmed (preferably on the grill while the steak rests)
2-3 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled

-       Chop half of the cilantro.  Mix the chopped cilantro, radishes, jalapeno, scallions, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
-       Preheat your grill to medium high. 
-       Rub remaining tablespoon of olive oil into the steak.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook on the hot grill for about 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare (I did about 7 minutes on each side for medium).
-       Remove from grill, and allow the steak to rest for about 5 minutes. 
-       Thinly slice steak against the grain with a serrated knife.

-       Pile the steak on top of the warmed tortillas, with the cotija cheese, radish salsa, and additional whole cilantro leaves

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