Believe it or not, I didn’t actually intend to post this Carne Asada Salad on Cinco de Mayo. Things in my calendar shifted and this dish, serendipitously, landed on May 5th. I don’t generally pay that much attention to Cinco de Mayo. I suppose because it really isn’t a thing here in Canada. Sure, you’ll see the odd margarita or Corona special. But for the most part, the day seems to pass largely unmarked. But I love Mexican food, so any excuse to make it is a good excuse in my books. So let’s tackle this wildly vibrant Carne Asada Salad.
Steak is one of those things I love to eat with a side of crunchy, crisp vegetables. To be honest, there aren’t that many food items I can truthfully say that about. But steak with its rich umami flavor, tender chew, and juiciness, is so intense that an equally intense side makes no sense. I know it’s common and traditional to serve steak alongside a baked potato following a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing. But it all seems too much to me. Seriously, when you stop to think about the breadth of rich dishes that grace the average steakhouse menu it’s a little, um, overwhelming. Steak doesn’t need something heavy, it needs the contrast that only something light, crisp and refreshing can provide.
Now, you know I’m not a great defender of salad. I’m actually a fairly vocal salad-hater. Although, I think I’m reaching the point where I have to revoke my status. I’ve been making a lot of salads lately. And I don’t think they suck. I think I’m just working through some sad garden or chef’s salad trauma. You know the ones where they barely bother to chop the lettuce, plunk 1-2 cherry tomatoes in the center, and serve it with Italian dressing in one of those little plastic packets. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s where the salad hatred started.
But lately, I’ve been making salads on my terms. Loading them up with all manner of delicious distractions, like, meat, cheese, nuts, and carefully crafted dressings. I’ll add any item that sparks joy and makes me forget about the greens. But honestly, even the greens seem less offensive. The romaine and radicchio really brought the crunch to this beauty. Wait a minute! Am I actually becoming a grown-up? I’ll let you know the minute I stop stashing my receipts in a shoebox. Then I’ll know I’ve made it.
This Carne Asada Salad is very easy to make but it does require a little planning. This recipe starts, as most flank steak recipes do, with a marinade. And like most Mexican-inspired recipes, the marinade starts with a bunch of citrus. One orange and one lime to be exact. To the juices, we add garlic, chili powder, and cumin. And we finish the marinade with some olive oil and some freshly chopped cilantro. Pour the marinade over the steak and let them hang out for a good 12 hours. It’s a good idea to make this either the day before you need it or the morning before you need it.
Now, there is one more thing we have to do ahead of time and that’s pickling the radish. Now, this is a quick pickle, so there’s no need to sterilize jars or anything like that. We’re not planning on storing these long term, we mean to eat them within a week. For the record, my pickled radish did not last the week. This process couldn’t be simpler. Pile the radish and shallots into a jar and cover them with vinegar. Add the salt and sugar and seal the jar. Give it a good shake and place it in the fridge. Leave the radish to pickle for 12 hours. Yes, the same amount of time it takes to marinate the steak. How convenient!
Once the steak and pickles are ready to go, it’s time to wash your greens. I always do this first because I like to let them air dry. I hate salad spinners with a passion – I realize this is an irrational hatred. But even if you don’t hate salad spinners, I think it’s a good idea to get your green dry first, so when your steak is ready to go, they’re ready to go.
Once the greens are drying, take your steak out of the fridge and let it come up to room temperature. This should take roughly an hour. And once your steak is grill-ready, get the grill ripping hot. Sear your steak all over and then reduce the heat. We’re aiming for about 120°F before we pull it. I was aiming for an internal temperature of about 130°F, which is rare on the way to medium-rare. Make sure you take your steak off of the heat before you reach your ideal temperature because it will continue to cook while it’s resting.
While the steak is resting, mix up the dressing and build your salad. Make sure the steak and avocado are the last things to hit the platter as they are the most time-sensitive ingredients. And that’s everything you need to know about this Carne Asada Salad. Vibrant, refreshing, and hearty enough to be satisfying, this is anything but a sad green salad.
Carne Asada Salad with Pickled Radish
- 1 cast-iron griddle or grill
- 454g (1lb) flank steak
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 orange juiced
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 4 radishes sliced thinly on a mandolin
- 2 shallots halved and thinly sliced
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Carne Asada Salad
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 limes juiced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp Tajín **
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 head romaine lettuce coarsely chopped, washed and dried
- ½ head radicchio torn, washed and dried
- 1 green mango cut into batons
- 1 jalapeño thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 avocado sliced into wedges
- 1 batch carne asada see above
- 1 batch pickled radish see above
- Place the flank steak in a wide, shallow dish or a freezer bag and set it aside.454g (1lb) flank steak
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine the orange juice, lime juice, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Pour the mixture over the steak and cover or seal the bag. Transfer the steak to the fridge and let marinate for 12-24 hours.2 cloves garlic, 1 orange, 1 lime, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp olive oil, ¼ cup cilantro, 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp ground coriander
- Once the steak is marinated, take it out of the fridge an hour before you want to grill it. You want it to come up to room temperature.
- Heat a cast-iron griddle until smoking. Place the steak on the grill and sear on all sides. reduce the heat to low and cook, flipping every once in a while, until the internal temperature registers between 120-125°F.** T
- Take the steak off of the heat and tent with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into thin pieces against the grain.
For the Pickled Radish
- Place the radish and shallots in a jar and cover them with the vinegar. Add the salt and sugar and seal the jar. Give the jar a good shake and transfer it to the fridge. Leave the radish to pickle for at least 12 hours. ***4 radishes, 2 shallots, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp granulated sugar, 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Salad
- In a bowl, whisk to combine the garlic, lime juice, olive oil, Tajín, and honey. Set aside.2 cloves garlic, 2 limes, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 tbsp Tajín **, 1 tbsp honey
- Place the romaine and radicchio in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing over top and toss to coat.1 head romaine lettuce, ½ head radicchio
- Pile the greens on a platter and top with the mango, jalapeño, cherry tomatoes, avocado, carne asada, and the pickled radish. Finish with a sprinkling of Tajín and serve immediately.1 green mango, 1 jalapeño, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 avocado, 1 batch carne asada, 1 batch pickled radish