Fajita tacos for a sunny taste of southern food in the summer

5 July 2002

Beef Fajitas with Tomato Salsa and Guacamole

Dont forget to marinate the meat the day before (chicken breasts work well, too in this recipe). If it makes life easier you can buy the soft tortillas.

For the marinade:

5 tablespoons dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

1 tablespoon chilli powder

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Freshly ground pepper


450g (1lb) skirt steak

1 red pepper, sliced into

long strips

1 green pepper, sliced into

long strips

1 yellow pepper, sliced

into long strips

1 onion, sliced thinly

Olive oil

4 Flour tortillas a person

Tomato salsa


1 small carton of soured cream

The day before the meal, mix the marinade ingredients together and lay the steak, trimmed of fat, in this. Refrigerate overnight.

Next day make the tortillas (or take them out of the packet). Make the salsa and the guacamole. Heat a grill or heavy frying pan until very hot, brush with a little oil. Remove the steak from the marinade, drain it well with kitchen paper and cook until it is well browned, three minutes each side or more, depending on your liking. Remember it will cook a bit more on the plate. Wrap the stack of tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan with a little oil and saute the peppers and onion until just soft. Cut the browned meat into narrow strips. Add it to the peppers and add any remaining marinade and juices from the meat, heat through very briefly until it is sizzling. Take the tortillas out of the oven. Put the beef and peppers in a serving dish, put the salsa, guacamole and soured cream on the table and let people fill their own tortillas. The secret is not to overfill them.

Flour Tortillas

Makes about 20 tortillas. Once you have mastered making your own you will never want to eat any other. Make a batch and freeze ahead. To store the tortillas place greaseproof paper between them, as they tend to stick together, especially when frozen. They defrost easily if left at room temperature for 30 minutes.

450g (1lb) Plain flour, or use half wholemeal flour

2 teaspoons salt

75g (3oz) lard or vegetable shortening

275ml (10floz) warm water

Sieve the flour and salt together, and blend in the fat as you would for pastry. Add the warm water slowly, to form a soft but not too sticky dough. Keep the dough covered with a warm, damp cloth. Take about 45g (11/2 oz) dough at a time and knead on a floured board, folding it back on itself to trap air. Make it into a little ball, place it on a well floured board, and roll out with a floured rolling pin until it is so thin that you can see the board through the pastry. For each tortilla cut round a 24cm (9 in) plate. Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan (a cast iron griddle pan is ideal) on moderate heat until a drop of water on it sizzles. Place each tortilla carefully on the hot pan, making sure it is flat and has no folds. As it cooks it will thicken slightly and small bubbles will appear. As soon as these start to appear (in about 40 seconds) flip it over and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. When cooked it should feel heavy, soft and pliable. Stack the tortillas together on a plate and cover with foil or a clean tea-towel if you are going to eat straight away as they should be eaten hot.

Tomato Salsa

Rinsing the chopped onion takes away the strong aftertaste that could otherwise overwhelm the other fresh ingredients. You dont have to been exact with the amounts, taste as you go. This sauce does not keep so it must be eaten within four hours of preparation.

1/2 small onion, finely chopped, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons lime or

lemon juice

5 ripe tomatoes, finely diced

3 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped

1 green chilli, (to taste) deseeded and finely chopped Salt

Very easy, just prepare all the above ingredients and combine them in a mixing bowl. Stir together, season well and serve. Keep two teaspoons of salsa aside for adding to the guacamole.


Serves 6

2 ripe avocados, peeled and stoned

2 teaspoons of tomato salsa, or more, according to taste

Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon

Put the avocado flesh in a mixing bowl and mash it with a fork and then beat in the tomato salsa. Season to taste. If you are not going to eat straight away, to help stop it from going brown, immerse the avocado stones in it. Smooth the surface and pour over the lime or lemon juice, then cover with cling film.

Panna Cotta

Serves 6

4 sheets of fine leaf gelatine, or 3 1/4 teaspoons powdered gelatine

3 tablespoons water

400ml (3/4 pt) double or whipping cream

300ml (1/2 pt) milk

110g (4oz) caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Summer fruits

Lightly oil six individual ramekins/moulds or one large mould. Soak the gelatine for five minutes in the water. Meanwhile heat the remaining ingredients in a saucepan, stirring. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Take off the heat and remove the vanilla pod. Add the soaked gelatine and stir for one minute until completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the prepared moulds and put in a cool place. Transfer to the refrigerator until firmly set, (about three hours, depending on the size of the mould).

Put clingfilm directly onto the surface of each cream and they can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days. When you are ready to serve, run the moulds under hot water and turn out onto plates and serve with summer fruits.

If you wish, make a sauce out of the summer fruits. Simply sieve (or blend) 225g (8oz) the fruit. Taste – if it needs sweetening add sugar or icing sugar. Then simply pour into a jug and chill until youre ready to serve with the panna cotta.

Fajita tacos for a sunny taste of southern food in the summer

Sunny weather and the chance to

enjoy some food outdoors, is what

Philippa Vine is looking forward to

this month, and she has recipes ready

to respond to the next fine forecast

ON SUNNY days our family can be found with sleeves rolled up and sturdy napkins at the ready to avoid being splattered with salsa and sour cream, tucking into a real favourite – fajita tacos.

Fajita means little belt or sash in Spanish and is the name given to the skirt steak which ranch labourers in South Texas used to tenderise by pounding with rocks before grilling on hot coals. Marinating the meat spares the rockery and has the same effect.

Wrap this steak up in a soft flour tortilla smeared with tomato salsa, sour cream, guacomole (so easy to make) and peppers and you have a fajita taco. You can buy tortillas but our children love to help roll out the home-made ones and they do taste better.

Salsa is the zingy equivalent of tomato ketchup, being served with every meal. It is very easy to make and uses up those fresh new tomatoes that are now in abundance.

The marinade I like to use for fajitas comes from the Official Fajita Cookbook which I picked up in New Orleans. It looks as dark as a witches brew but makes an excellent marinade not only for fajitas but for any meat to be barbecued.

For a delicious summer pudding try panna cotta. The Italian for cooked cream, it is cool and light on the tongue – though not so light on calories – and accompanied by seasonal fruits it is an ideal sweet at this time of year.

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