Season, then sear the steak for better tacos


After years of debating whether pickles are worth it, we’ve decided to skip them, especially when it comes to steak on a weeknight.

This is because the ingredients in marinades don’t penetrate the surface of the meat well, and the liquids actually inhibit the flavor that comes from cooking the meat because it has to boil first.

So for steak, our motto is, season first, sauce second.

That’s how we treat steak in a simple taco filling in our “COOKish” book, which limits recipes to just six ingredients without sacrificing flavor. Rubbing ground cumin into skirt steak helps develop a good crust when seared in a skillet. Then, while the steak rests, we turn the sautéed onion and poblano peppers into a quick salsa. Drizzling the mixture with lime juice after cooking keeps the flavors lively and balanced.

Skirt steak is the perfect cut for these tacos because the cumin is trapped in the folds and the relatively high fat content adds flavor while preventing the spice from burning.

For the most tender texture, slice the steak thinly and against the grain. And use a non-stick pan, otherwise the steak seasoning may stick to the pan and burn.

Recipes take 25 minutes from start to finish and serve four.


Ingredients …

1 pound skirt steak, trimmed

1 tablespoon ground cumin

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 teaspoons of neutral oil

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into thin strips

¼ cup lime juice

Warmed corn tortillas, for serving


Directions …

Rub the steak with cumin, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, then cut into 5-inch sections.

In a 12-inch non-stick skillet, heat the oil until just smoking.

Add meat and brown on both sides; transfer to a plate.

In the skillet, add the onion, peppers and ½ teaspoon of salt.

Cover and cook, stirring, until lightly softened, then uncover and cook until lightly browned; remove from fire.

Thinly slice the steak against the grain and toss with its juices and lime juice, then toss with the vegetables.

Serve with tortillas.

Optional garnishes: minced radishes OR chopped fresh cilantro OR both

For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at


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