There is great comfort to be found in simple food. Savoury, fresh, vibrant, and spicy flavours; with some warm corn tortillas thrown in, and now we’re on a great path to comfort food for me.
I didn’t grow up eating fajitas, in fact it wasn’t until my family moved to the US that I even heard of a fajita meal. Before our move the words “faja or fajita” always drew mental pictures of a girdle — but of course ladies’ undergarments have nothing to do with the popular meaty dish.
Fajitas (the food) is a popular Tex-Mex dish that can now be found in just about any restaurant that caters a varied menu. The dish gets it’s name due to the type of meat cut that was traditionally used: skirt steak. In Spanish the word fajita has several meanings and two are diminutive for a belt or girdle. The butchers along the Texas-Mexico border used this word to refer to the cut that we know as skirt steak, and tada this is how fajitas (the meal) got it’s name…Actually the story is a tad longer and if you’d like to read it check out this article.
The traditional fajita meal is made using skirt steak, onions and peppers. Varieties using chicken, pork, shrimp, or only vegetables can be found. You can marinade the meat or veggies and you can grill it on a charcoal girl or on a flat kitchen grill. There is no wrong or right way of making fajitas and the possibilities are endless. The only thing you mustn’t forget it to served them with a a good salsa!
After discovering fajitas in the US it was a meal that I craved and loved eating often. It didn’t matter to me that it wasn’t something that I considered part of my Mexican heritage, what matter was that I really enjoyed the dish. I think those of us that just love good food don’t need to have a dish be a part of our family table (growing up) to end up considering it as comfort food. If it comforts your belly who cares who invented the dish. Besides, I mean really, who doesn’t love fajitas? I’ve never met a person that didn’t: they’re fun to prepare and super fun to eat!
I don’t eat fajitas as often as I did when I lived in the States, but I still consider them simple and delicious comfort food. Below is a steak version that is our current favourite, enjoy!
- 350 gm or ¾ lb of skirt steak or thin steak cut of choice cut into strips
- 1 small white onion, cut into 8ths
- 2-3 poblanos, seeded and cut into thing strips
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- olive oil
- fine sea salt, large pinch
- ground black pepper, large pinch
- 3 tomatillo, charred
- 2-3 serrano, charred
- 2 peeled cloves of garlic, charred
- ¼ of a small white onion, peeled & charred
- 2 tbsp toasted unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- small handful of cilantro leaves
- large pinch of sea salt
- Peel the tomatillos, garlic cloves and onion; place them on a hot griddle or pan along with the Serrano chiles and allow to charr on all sides. Once blistered and charred remove and allow to cool slightly. In the meantime place the pepitas on the hot griddle/pan and evenly spread out. Allow to toast (will darken a bit) but keep stirring them to prevent burning. Remove and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
- Remove the stem from the chiles and place them along with the tomatillos, onion and garlic into a blender. Blend until smooth, then add the pepitas and cilantro leaves; again blend until smooth. If needed add a tablespoon or two of water to help the blending process. Pour into serving dish and set aside.
- Heat a large flat grill or griddle and add a bit of oil; sauté the onions until soft then add the Poblano peppers and cook for a couple of minutes. Next add the steak strips and minced garlic and cook until the steak is done. Sprinkle a little bit of salt and ground black pepper and stir to well combine.
As you can see the spices are short and simple, all of the flavour comes from the meat juices and poblano peppers. You could of course add additional spices, if you like. But my only recommendation is to stay away from the pre-package fajita mixes, they have too much salt and some have a long list of preservatives. Have fun and experiment with your own spice mix creations.
Enjoy and have a beautiful weekend amigos!