San Francisco is well-known for its incredible dining. There’s Zuni Café, where, whatever else you order, make sure to save room for the perfect roast chicken. There’s Tartine Bakery, a buttery pastry heaven, and there’s Coi, a Michelin-starred fine-dining establishment that proved to be the training ground for a cadre of America’s great chefs — Carlos Salgado, Evan and Sarah Rich, and James Syhabout, among them.
Nopalito in San Francisco should have already been known as one of the Golden Gate City’s best restaurants. The 2018 James Beard Award for International Cookbook for its namesake cookbook, Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen by the restaurant’s chef, Gonzalo Guzmán, has cemented its well-earned status.
The collection of 100 recipes for Mexican dishes through a California lens offers readers an accessible entrée into the foods of one of America’s most popular cuisines, a gastronomy that has played no small part in the development of what we eat in the West.
Recipes include those representative of Puebla, the Yucatán Peninsula, Michoacán, and Mexico City balanced with primers on techniques and culture.
Give one of our favorite recipes, a grilled steak and chorizo dish, a try.
Carne Asada con Chorizo
(Serves 4 to 6)
Carne asada is a ubiquitous feature of American taquerias, but we wanted to do something different with our version. In Mexico, it is very popular to combine two types of meat or seafood in one dish—typically a leaner meat with a fattier one—so here we added the rich chorizo to complement the nice lean skirt steak. Adding cooked cactus absorbs some of the chorizo fats as well, lending a vegetable component to an otherwise meaty meal. We serve it with salsa borracha, a chunky, dark chile–based salsa with a little sweetness and a splash of tequila for acidity and kick (borracha means “drunk” in Spanish).
Even though this carne asada recipe is an entrée, you can forgo the fork and knife: it is meant to be scooped up with warm tortillas and eaten by hand like we do in Mexico.
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 4 limes), plus the zest of 2 limes
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 pounds top sirloin or skirt steak, trimmed
- 4 medium nopales (cactus leaves), spines trimmed away
- 1 cup crumbled chorizo oaxaqueño or crumbled store-bought Mexican chorizo, casings removed
Fresh cilantro leaves
8 – 12 warm homemade soft corn tortillas store-bought soft corn tortillas
In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, and olive oil. Season the beef well with salt and add it to the citrus mixture; let marinate at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, rinse the cactus leaves with cold water and season with salt. In a large skillet or griddle over high heat, working in batches if needed, cook the cactus leaves until charred on both sides and slightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and let cool slightly, then slice into ½-inch-wide strips. In the same skillet, lower the heat to medium and add the crumbled chorizo. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through and fully cooked, about 6 minutes. Stir the sliced cactus into the chorizo. Turn off the heat but keep the mixture warm.
When ready to serve, preheat a grill or griddle to high heat. Add the steak and let cook, turning once, until medium, about 3 minutes per side; remove and let rest about 5 minutes.
Slice the steak against the grain into ¼ -inch-thick pieces. Transfer to a large platter or divide among 4 – 6 individual plates. Garnish the steak with cilantro and serve with the chorizo and cactus mixture, the salsa borracha, and warm tortillas on the side.