Wednesday, September 2, 2009

UnRecipe: In the Heat of Fajita

Wait, wait -- don't leave us, Summer! I see you packing up your things, taking all your stone fruits, the fresh berries, starting to change out your green leaves to hints of orange and yellow. I realize things were said... complaining about the record-breaking temperatures... how all our plants were dying... but come on, you can't blame people for what was said in the heat of the moment. How can we make it up to you? A meal we cook outside, right on the grill? Oh, really...? So you'll stay, at least for dinner, then. Well, okay then, let's eat!

Don't Go Away Mad, Summer, Just Have a Fajita - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Now that we're on more civil terms with the season and temperate heads prevailed, the Wasabi Prime household saw fit to enjoy one more meal cooked al fresco on the grill-o. With so many garden goods in season, it's hard not to throw anything and everything on the hot irons of the grill to let it become seared to perfection. Add some corn tortillas, and it's Drunken Fajitas with a Summer Corn Salad!

We defrosted a flank steak, and marinated it in a loose adaptation of a recipe I had seen from the Spiky-Haired One, Food Network's overly-peroxided Guy Fieri. He had a recipe for a grilled tequila lime flank steak, whose marinade looked quite flavorful, but I did a simpler version, just using lime juice, tequila (one shot for the steak, one shot for me), and a little liquid from a can of adobo chiles, which are cans of smoked chiles, sitting in a thick red vinegar sauce that you can usually find in the grocery aisle that has dried chiles and other ingredients from Mexico.

Several peppers and red onions were chopped into large chunks and left to sear on the grill. The steak marinated for over a day to drunken perfection. Tequila, or any spirit for that matter, makes the meat flare up a little on the grill, so it's nice to cook something like that outside. That way, all the neighbors can see you panic when you're set aflame. Letting the vegetables cook down to roasted-sweet perfection, they were pulled from the heat and sliced into thin ribbons to hang out with the flank steak once it was done cooking.

Burn, Baby Burn - Photos by Wasabi Prime

A corn salad mixed with black beans, sliced radish, bell peppers and onions is one of my favorite and colorful side dishes. There's really no measuring this salad out, as it's just a combination of whatever vegetables you like with a few cups' worth of corn, tossed together. The dressing for the salad also used the adobo chiles. I really like using them since they add a smoky, slow-cooked flavor, and the fact that it comes in a can makes for easy application into different foods.

I know it's an UnRecipe post, which is more slap-dash MacGyver Cooking than anything else, but the adobo chile sauce is worth listing, as it has many food applications beyond what was cooked for our fading summertime meal.

Adobo Chile Dressing
3-4 small adobo chiles and about 2 teaspoons of the sauce (reduce amount by half if you don't like spicy)
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, washed and dried
Juice and zest of 1 large lime
2 cups of canola or olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Take a blender or food processor and pulse down the chiles, adobo sauce, and lime juice until the chiles have been rendered to tiny bits (don't want a mouthful of heat!). Add in the fresh cilantro, stems, leaves and all, as it's a pretty soft herb and it will get chopped down. Drizzle in the oil as the cilantro breaks down and the whole sauce begins to incorporate into a reddish pesto-like consistency. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste; you may not even need it if you like the flavor as-is. Add more oil if you need to loosen the sauce.

You'll most likely wind up with leftover adobo sauce, but keep it for drizzling over eggs at breakfast, or other meats. It's got fresh herbs in it, so it won't last forever, but I'm sure once you buzz up a batch, you'll discover new ways to add it to things and, oh bother... it's already gone.

* Post Script - Om-nommy thanks to Serious Eats' Photograzing for posting the fajita photo. Gracias!

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  1. Holy Frijoles that's gorgeous stuff. What is it that is so magic about lime and chili? (and corn and onion and...)

  2. This meal has some of my favorite flavors! Smoky tastes from the grill and chipotle, bright lime, and the unlike-anything-else flavor of cilantro.

    *sigh* Someday I will have a grill! Stupid wooden balconies... stupid fire safety regulations... *grumblegrumble*

  3. Cute post. :) LOVE fajitas, this sounds delicious.

  4. I love "unrecipe" posts because that's the way I usually cook! Though I do always feel guilty not providing a recipe for my readers because a lot of people like having precise measurements. :)

  5. Looks very delicious, and not only because it's lunchtime where I live!

  6. I'm jealous of your photos --gorgeous stuff. Who cares if it's an unrecipe when you're drooling on the keyboard?

  7. Holy moly do these look good! I love fajitas. This is a meal that I definitely crave while being here in Japan. I brought back some dried ancho chiles from San Francisco and am really aching to use them for something like this. I'm thinking a chili recipe when the weather cools down... Yum yum!


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