In Israel, my dinner of choice was shwarma from a tiny shop near our apartment. They piled their sandwiches with roasted eggplant, fiery s’chug, french fries, onions, hummus, cabbage, salad and tahini, and although it took serious effort to stay clean while eating, boy, was that a sandwich.
Since then, I’ve been in love with the concept of regional street food. Specifically, sandwiches. All of it appeals to me: the ethnic twists, the handheld format, the combination of flavors. There isn’t a single country that doesn’t have its own version of a street-food sandwich (think: Vietnamese bahn mi, Chicago hot dogs, Bavarian pretzels with mustard and sausage) and in my opinion, there is no higher form of sandwich.
My love of street-food sandwiches is what inspired these tacos. They’re not the ones you ate as a kid: forget the stale, flavorless taco shell, the too-salty meat and the iceberg lettuce that spilled out everywhere. These are real tacos, with soft, flour tortillas as the base, slathered with a bright, creamy lime guacamole, and topped with juicy bites of steak, a peppery radish salsa and sauteed shallots.
Here, the details matter. You want to hit every flavor note: a slightly sour tang from the limes, a sharpness from the radishes, sweetness from the shallots and a drop of saltiness from the steak. As for texture, the radishes should be sliced paper thin, the avocado should be completely smooth, and the steak cooked through, but still succulent.
To make this even easier to put together, I assembled the radish salsa the night before (and dressed it the next day) and I roasted the jalapeno to add some extra smokiness, rounding out all the flavors in this dish. Right before serving, I topped the tacos with thinly sliced radishes, more fresh parsley and sweet shallots and when we finally sat down to dinner, they were gobbled up and gone in minutes, the perfect breezy spring dinner.
Yield: 6 servings
Inspired by and adapted from here
Why I love this recipe: all the elements here perfectly complement each other: the steak is chewy and flavorful, the salsa is bright with parsley and radishes and has a kick from the blistered jalapeno, and the lime guacamole + shallots add creaminess and sweetness. Best of all, each component is simple to put together, and smart, but easy techniques, such as blistering the jalapeno and letting the steak rest before slicing, make this dish memorable- and doable.
For the parsley + radish salsa:
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, washed and chopped
- 6 radishes, trimmed, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the lime guacamole:
- 3 avocados
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the steak:
- 1 1/2 lbs. skirt steak
- oil, for frying
- salt + pepper, for seasoning
For the tacos:
- 6 flour tortillas, warmed
- skirt steak, (above)
- lime guacamole (above)
- radish + parsley salsa (above)
- 2 shallots, sliced into rings and sauteed
- thinly sliced radishes, for serving
- fresh parsley leaves, for serving
First, make the salsa: turn a stove-top flame on high and spear the jalapeno with a long fork. Hold the pepper 1-2 inches over the open flame. Hold the pepper over the flame for 60-90 seconds until the skin chars and blisters. Let cool.
Once the jalapeno is cooled, halve and discard the seeds. Chop into tiny pieces. Toss with the parsley, radishes and garlic. Season with lime juice, oil, salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.
Next, make the steak: heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large (preferably cast iron) skillet over high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper- but be very careful not to over salt, as (kosher) skirt steak can be salty.
Cook about 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let steak rest 15 minutes- this allows the juices to resettle into the meat, so it remains soft and tender.
While the steak is resting, make the guacamole. Mash 3 avocados with lime juice, salt and pepper. Set aside until assembly.
Slice steak into small, bite-size pieces. Dollop a nice, round portion of guacamole onto tortillas. Top with steak, radish salsa, shallots, and fresh radishes and parsley. Serve with a wedge of lime.