Friday, June 29, 2012

Thai Flank Steak & Spicy Mango Tacos


For this week's #TacoTuesday, I cooked up what just might be my favorite tacos to date. After a few days of cooking some Thai-inspired curry dishes, I decided to keep the momentum and include those flavors in a taco dish. The idea for the mangoes came from my coworker, who raves about the Central American preparation of under-ripe mangoes with hot sauce, lime and salt. I turned my nose up the first time but had to admit I was intrigued. He was right. You don't need to worry about any exact measurements for this recipe, so adjust all ingredients & seasonings to taste. I had fun with this one and I think you'll love the result. By the way, this was my first time cooking steak! I got a lot of info from The Food Lab's guide to properly slicing meat against the grain for tender pieces of flank steak.

Thai Flank Steak & Spicy Mango Tacos

Ingredients:
Flank steak, about 1.5 - 2 lbs
Knob of fresh ginger, peeled
Garlic cloves, peeled
A few Thai chilies
Fish sauce
Soy sauce
Navel orange
2 -3 Limes
Large mango, slightly under-ripe
Red onion slices
Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
Bunch of fresh cilantro
Several mint leaves
Mixed greens
Sea salt
White pepper (I'm sure black pepper would work fine, use what you have)
Olive oil (I used a honey infused olive oil - add a drizzle of honey to marinade & vinaigrette if using plain oil)
8 whole-wheat flour tortillas

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 1 hr (including marinating time)
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Equipment Needed: Grill,* small pan or griddle, food processor or blender

*I used an indoor grill (George Foreman) and was pleased with results. Any kind of grill will work so long as it's hot enough to quickly sear the steak. You could probably achieve decent results broiling the flank steak in a pinch, but I haven't tried that myself.

First, prepare a marinade for the flank steak. In a food processor, throw in a generous amount of cilantro leaves & stems, the juice of half an orange, juice of 1 or 2 limes, several cloves of peeled garlic, a few pieces of fresh ginger (I used about a 1 1/2" knob), two or three Thai chilies and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and about a tablespoon of fish sauce. Puree, then taste your marinade and adjust seasonings if necessary.


You may need to cut your flank steak along the grain lengthwise to fit your grill. If necessary, trim any excess fat. In a non-reactive pan large enough to lay the steak in one layer, pour the marinade over the steak.  Cover and marinate at least 30 minutes at room temperature. I marinated mine about an hour. Flip the steaks over halfway through.


Peel and slice the mango. In a small bowl, combine mangoes with thin onion slices, juice of half a lime, plenty of Sriracha sauce, chopped cilantro & mint, and a little sea salt. Toss to coat mangoes and refrigerate until needed.


I prepared the vinaigrette ahead of time, but did not toss it with my greens until serving the tacos. This prevents everything from getting soggy. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice of half an orange, a few tablespoons of honey-infused olive oil (or olive oil + a drizzle of honey). Add sea salt & pepper to taste.


Make sure your grill is preheated; it needs to be extremely hot. Drain the marinade, scraping off excess cilantro from the flank steak. Rub both sides of the steak with a little olive oil & season with salt and pepper.


Grill the steak. You're looking for a rare to medium rare finish for best results; medium is probably okay but I wouldn't go past that. The internal temperature of the steak should be at least 125° for rare; about 140° will get you to medium. I reached 125° after 5 minutes on the grill. Keep in mind I'm cooking for those of us in apartments using George Foreman Grills, which worked fine by the way, although I'm sure a charred steak would have been fantastic! If you're using an outdoor grill (or an indoor grill that is not 2-sided) you will need to adjust the cooking time appropriately, flipping your steak half way through. I would estimate grilling time of 4-6 minutes per side.

When your steak is grilled to perfection, remove it from the heat and allow it to rest, at least 5 minutes before slicing! This is the most important tip I've ever picked up about cooking most meats. If you cut it too soon all of the juices will run out and you'll end up with dry steak.


While the steak is resting, warm your tortillas and toss the mixed greens in the vinaigrette. You don't need much, the idea is just to add a hint of flavor to compliment everything else going on in the taco.


To serve tacos, I placed a small handful of greens in a warm tortilla, and topped with alternating pieces of steak and spicy mango. Finish with some onions and garnish with a few cilantro leaves if desired. Serve with plenty of limes and if you like it really hot, some extra Sriracha sauce on the side.  Enjoy!