Monday, March 28, 2011

5 Tips For Great Tasting Fajitas

I got asked a few times recently how to make really good tasting Fajitas yourself, instead of using the ready made commercial kits full of E-numbers and other crap. As I made Fajitas again last weekend, I thought I'll share a few tips and tricks in a bit more detail instead of the usual picture reportage.

Here's my 5 tips for absolutely fantastic tasting Fajitas.

Tip 1. The Meat and the Marinade.

Traditionally the one and only Fajitas meat is skirt steak. However, as skirt steak is not a very popular cut here in Europe and it's hard - if not impossible - to find at local meat counters, we need to find alternatives.  In my opinion,  just as good, if not better, is the fillet of beef (tenderloin).  Another cheaper but still incredibly tasty option is of course chicken breast fillets.  Either of these do taste fantastic when marinated properly. As I made Beef Fajitas earlier this month, I'll be making chicken Fajitas this time.

This marinade works just as good with beef or chicken:

  • 1 dl soy sauce (Kikkoman works great)
  • 1 dl water
  • few crushed cloves of garlic or 1 tbslp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp hot chili powder
  • 2-3 tsp paprika powder
  • back pepper
  • white pepper
  • (salt) I usually skip the salt here, as the soy sauce is salty enough to my taste
Mix up the ingredients and the marinade is ready. Put the meat in a zip-lock bag or a sealed container and add the marinade. Keep in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.   Give it a mix or shake once or twice.

The secret here is the soy sauce. It is just unbelievable how good flavour it brings to the meat. I didn't believe it until I tried it myself. Trust me, it is good. After doing soy sauce based marinades with meat and chicken for the first time a few years ago, I have started to buy soy sauce in 1l bottles from Asian shops. They cost about 5e per bottle and make quite a few excellent marinades.

Tip 2. The Marinade for the Vegetables

Nice choice of vegetables for Fajitas is of course grilled onions and paprikas (bell peppers).

For the marinade, again, key is the soy sauce.  For the veggies a lighter marinade is enough as we don't want to kill the flavour of the veggies, just enhance it a little.  Therefore,  sprinkle some soy sauce, a little bit salt and some freshly ground black pepper on the vegetables. Mix them around a couple of times before you grill them. It doesn't make sense to actually grill them on a real grill, so best way is to brown  them on a hot cast iron skillet. I usually don't put any oil on the skillet, but add a bit of oil to the vegetables just before cooking them.

Tip 3. Grilling the Meat

You could grill the meat on a cast iron skillet as well. It would taste very good, but for the really special flavor we need of course charcoal and a little bit of wood.

The traditional smoke flavour for Fajitas is mesquite.  We don't need to BBQ the meat, but adding mesquite wood chips on the hot charcoal does add to the flavour very nicely.

Place the meat or the chicken on the grill directly over the hot charcoal and grill it about 1 minute each side. Close the lid between turning the meat so the mesquite wood chips start to smoke instead of just burning.

The beef is done when it's browned on each side.  Same goes for thin chicken fillets. If you have thicker chicken pieces, move them away from the charcoal to the cold side of the grill and close the lid for a couple of minutes just to make sure the chicken is well cooked.

Cut the meat to thin strips and place it on a hot sizzling skillet next to the vegetables for serving.

Tip 4. Pico de Gallo

The real flavours of Mexican food to me comes from coriander (cilantro) and lime. If I don't have them available, I don't cook Mexican.  A great condiment for Fajitas is Pico de Gallo. It is also known as Salsa Fresca, as it's indeed a fresh and tasty Mexican Salsa.

For the salsa, you need:

  • 6-8 nice and aromatic tomatoes
  • 1-2 onions
  • few sprigs of fresh coriander 
  • 2 green chillies (jalapeƱos etc.)
  • 1 lime 
  • dash of salt
  • dash of freshly ground black pepper

De-seed the tomatoes and discard the seeds. Chop the tomato flesh to small bite size chunks. Chop the onions, chillies and coriander as well.  Squeeze in the juice of the lime and mix it all up well.  Let it settle in the fridge for an hour or two.

Serve with the Fajitas and enjoy. I can tell from experience, no matter how much I make of this, there is never anything left over.  It is a really really nice and refreshing salsa.

Tip 5. Easy Guacamole

If you made the salsa above, it's your lucky day -  making Guacamole couldn't be more easier.

Mash up 2-3 avocados with a fork or a potato masher.  Just before serving, fold in 1-2 tablespoons of the salsa. Done!


That's it!  Hope you enjoyed the tips.

Putting it all together, I like to add some sour cream for the extra moistness and being a chili-head, any hot chilies or hot sauces for the extra kick.  Sometimes some shredded cheese or refried beans as well.

Last but not least, make your own tortillas if you got the time. They are always better.  This time I didn't have the time so I cheated and used ready made ones.  I promise, these Fajitas were delicious anyway!


1 comment:

Laali said...

I love this recipe! I think!

I found your blog and this recipe yesterday, and now I have meat in the marinade in the fridge.

We'll eat chicken fajitas tonight. I have also made the salsa, and I am going to make guacamole, too.

And of course I use your recipe!

It is interesting, among other things, because I don't like to use conserves, which include many E-numbers and other crap as you say.

And the idea is new, I never thought I could make this way! Nice!

Thank you for the idea! I have an own food blog, but almost everything is in Finnish and some in Swedish.

Your pics are very nice! :)

Here my blog, welcome to visit!