Upon returning home from work and shopping for my brothers-in-law’s big French dinner on Saturday night at The Bowl, I realized that there was no dinner for this evening.

I popped over to my local Hispanic market and grabbed a pound of Arrachera steak meat (otherwise known as skirt steak) where the butcher kindly cut and prepared it for my fajitas, cutting them thinly and properly, as well as tomatillos, tomatoes, an onion, a Serrano pepper and a jalapeño pepper.

One salsa…


Second salsa…


As my wife has the biggest cat’s tongue in Berkeley, you can rest assured that the spiciest damn thing in the Pico de gallo was salt, and maybe a vestigial aspect of my disdain for her inordinately sensitive taste buds. If it weren’t for her exquisite palate, hampered as it is by her marked aversion to spicy or certain stinky foods (no blue cheese, no Brussels sprouts, no arugula, no lemon desserts if at all possible…), well…she does have a good palate.

As for myself, I concocted a small serving of salsa verde replete with a piece of that Serrano chile ground and pulverized into every crevice of the sauce. Will she try it? Perhaps a smidgen on the edge of a fork tine where I will smile ruefully as she makes her ‘face’.

One salsa with bite (green) and one that could be made into tomato soup with little effort.


Ah, the married life.

Both salsas were quick work, with cilantro and onion crossing over into both. Fairly effortless and fresh, homemade salsas are always preferable to store bought.

The meat marinated in oil, lime juice, cilantro, garlic for upwards of an hour and cooked cleanly and quickly, and while it rested under foil I quickly seared a few peppers and an onion to go with the fajitas.

The magic of marination…


And after the quick skillet cooking! Alas, flavorful but tough!


Ah–lets not forget the sweet peppers and onions which came out great!


Final result? The marinade worked reasonably well, but the meat, even though it cooked in less time than I thought (so it wouldn’t toughen up) ultimately proved a bit too tough. Plainly, it either needs to be marinated for a longer time or I need a better cut of meat.

Solution? It seems that the Mexican Arrachera meat is often marinated for a couple of days to reduce its inherent toughness. When you’re paying around $6/lb, its surely not London Broil. The other option would be to simply spring for the better quality stuff in the first place like a quality ribeye as I’ve done for Korean bulgogi.

Every meat cut has its challenges, and tenderizing this tough, cheap stuff is my latest. I have a half pound sitting in the freezer for another go.

Still and all, a passable near-success. The fajita vegetables were cooked just right, the meat was at least flavorful, and the beer and two salsas were quite acceptable.