Watermelon salsa. Sounds different, right? But not in a bad way–more like really interesting. I certainly thought so when I first heard of it, and while the watermelons were abundant around here, I knew I had to try it. So closely following Susan’s very tempting recipe, I made some Carne Asada Tacos with Watermelon Mango Avocado Salsa.
And how did it come out? Quite surprising–I’d never had watermelon in any form other than dessert, so I was really curious to see where it would go. The end result didn’t quite have the tex-mex sort of flavors I was expecting, but it was nonetheless quite enjoyable.
The peppers give the salsa a bit of heat, the avocado some creaminess and richness, the jicama a tartness and a firm crunch, while the watermelon played the curious role of…refreshment. Sort of like having a salsa with really juicy tomatoes…but not. It was definitely a good one–the only downside is that if you have extra, it doesn’t keep very long in the fridge (it will soon become very liquidy and slushy–not the most attractive sight).
Paired with the citric, grilled flavors of the steak and the salty flavors of the cheese, I’d certainly make this again (I actually already have! Gotta enjoy that watermelon while you can, right?).
- ~2 lbs steak (I used top sirloin)
- juice of 4 limes (more may be required–enough to cover the steaks)
- ground chipotle
- black pepper
- ground coriander
- 2 cups diced watermelon
- 2 diced mangoes
- 3/4 cup diced jicama (about 1/2 of a jicama)
- 2 avocados
- juice of 1 lime
- olive oil
- 3-6 cloves garlic
- 2 jalapeños
- 3 or more chipotles in adobo sauce
- 1 Tbsp rice wine
- pinch of sugar
- mint leaves
- cilantro leaves
- black pepper
- Cotija (or some other white, crumbly, ideally Mexican cheese)
The night before you intend to cook this, you need to marinate the beef. Juice enough limes to cover the steak in lime juice and add in some salt, ground chipotle, black pepper, and ground coriander. Stir things up, submerge the beef, cover this up, and let it rest in the fridge overnight.
Shortly before you intend to eat this, prepare the salsa (it doesn’t look nearly as attractive the next day. It will still taste fine, but hey, looks matter, too, right?). Peel and pit the mangoes, avocados, cutting small/medium sized chunks and putting them in a bowl. Squeeze in the lime juice, tossing well to prevent the avocado from discoloring. Peel and cut similarly sized chunks of jicama, and again, toss it well so that the lime juice helps keep the color looking good (brown chunks in salsa just doesn’t catch your eye).
Also add in chunks of watermelon, a splash of rice wine, sugar, and a bit of freshly ground black pepper. Chop up some chipotles, cilantro, mint, tossing in as well. Finally, I sautéed some minced jalapeños in a dab of olive oil for about 3 minutes and garlic for another minute before adding this into the salsa. Taste it, season/spice it up as you see fit, and set aside.
Remove the steaks from the fridge and give them 30 minutes or so to come closer to room temperature. Fire up the grill and get it nice and hot so you can get a nice sear on the outside of those steaks. Then, season the meat with salt and pepper and simply grill to your desired doneness, flipping once (e.g. I like to figure something like 10 minutes total, but I am partial to a pink center), and then let it rest off of the heat for 5-10 minutes. With a sharp knife, slice the meat very thinly.
Finally, its time to put the tacos together. In a dry pan, toast the tortillas on high heat for ~30 seconds per side. Then, simply spread in a bit of the carne asada, a good few scoops of salsa, and crumble in some cotija. Wrap it up, serve with some black beans and some fried plantains, and most importantly, enjoy!