Season, then sear the steak for better tacos


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

This is because the ingredients in the marinades poorly penetrate the surface of the meat, and the liquids actually inhibit the flavor that comes from the seared meat because it has to boil first.

So for the steak, our motto is, the season first, the sauce later.

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

The skirt steak is the perfect cut for these tacos, as the cumin is trapped in the folds and the relatively high fat content adds flavor while isolating 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 seasoning of the steak may stick to the pan and burn.


Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

1 pound skirt steak, trimmed

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 teaspoons of neutral oil

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

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

¼ cup lime juice

Reheated corn tortillas, for serving

Rub the steak with cumin, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper, then cut it into 5 inch chunks. In a 12-inch non-stick skillet, heat the oil until it barely smokes. Add the meat and brown on both sides; transfer to a plate. In the pan, add the onion, peppers and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly softened, then uncover and cook until lightly browned; remove from fire. Thinly slice the steak against the grain and mix with its juice and lime juice, then mix with the vegetables. Serve with tortillas.

Optional garnishes: finely sliced ​​radish OR chopped fresh cilantro OR both


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, head over to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at


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