Carne Asada Tacos with Watermelon Mango Avocado Salsa

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)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Marinade
    • juice of 4 limes (more may be required–enough to cover the steaks)
    • salt
    • ground chipotle
    • black pepper
    • ground coriander
  • Salsa
    • 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
  • Tortillas
  • 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!

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25 Responses to “Carne Asada Tacos with Watermelon Mango Avocado Salsa”

  1. kittie Says:

    Watermelon isn’t one of my favourite things – but it’s interesting to read about another way to use it!

  2. dhanggit Says:

    watermelon is one of my fave summer fruits, its great to know there’s other way to use them than to eat them as it is…i wonder how did watermelon, mango and avocado tasted together..gotta try this recipe!

  3. cakewardrobe Says:

    Watermelon is one of those unexpected ingredients you’d add to something with heat but it gives such great contrast! This looks sooo good!

  4. Daisy Says:

    Watermelon salsa, huh? We don’t have too many watermelons here yet, but when we do, I think I’m going to have to try it! I like that it’s got a little heat – I wouldn’t have expected that from a salsa with watermelon.

  5. swirlingnotions Says:

    I saw this over on Susan’s blog earlier and loved the look of it. I love playing with savory takes on all kinds of melons . . . I recently had a watermelon “bruschetta” at a restaurant that was really good–like a tomato bruschetta topping only with diced watermelon instead.

  6. DocChuck Says:

    “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 …”

    Watermelon salsa isn’t anything new. We’ve been making it every summer for at least 15 years.

    Frankly I’d leave out the chipotles in adobo next time. They muddy up what is supposed to be a clean flavor, popping with cool, crisp flavors.

    I also think avocado muddies up the flavor of watermelon salsa, though I know people often combine the two.

    Super Photos!

  7. heather Says:

    oooh those look delicious!!! i love watermelon salsa!

  8. grace Says:

    that’s a gorgeous taco, mike, and even though i’m a pig-lover (well, not so much a pig-lover as a pig-meat-lover), what makes it gorgeous to me is that salsa. it’s wonderful! what flavors, what textures! bravo!

  9. pam Says:

    Lately I have seen a lot of savory watermelon recipes. The combination in this salsa sounds really appetizing.

  10. Kevin Says:

    Watermelon salsa sounds great! I really like that you used it in carde asada tacos.

  11. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    Watermelon salsa sounds delicious, but I’m not sure about watermelon and cheese. Remember that episode of Top Chef when Sam mixed watermelon with blue cheese? I think that has stuck in my mind, and has made me a little bit skittish.

  12. Marie Says:

    Sounds like a match made in heaven to me! Anything with watermelon is good to me, it all looks terrific!

  13. Toni Says:

    The crunch of the jicama combined with the creaminess of the avocado and the coolness of the watermelon sounds spot on to me. I also love the colors! (Yes, of course looks matter!)

    But aside from the salsa, I love the marinade for your steak!

  14. noble pig Says:

    Wow what a taco! If you had a stand I would come. I also love the Cotija cheese and I am sure is the perfect contrast with the fruit.

    Outstanding job! Love it.

  15. [eatingclub] vancouver || js Says:

    I love these tacos!

    Great way to use up those ultra-humongous watermelons. I wonder, do they purposely breed them to be so big?

  16. Kristen Says:

    These sound so fresh and interesting. What a neat recipe.

  17. Poonam Says:

    Your first sentence in the post is what I exactly said to myself when I read the title. I am sure it must have been great!

  18. Deeba Says:

    As I read your post Mike, I’m going mango-check, coriander-check,jicama-not sure,avacado-not a chance, steak-got some (YAY)….what an exotic blend of flavours. I have a thought that maybe I can do this…it does loogk GREAT!! ove the fact that all the work gets done in advance!!

  19. Susan from Food Blogga Says:

    I’m so glad you tried the salsa and liked it, Mike. Yours looks wonderful! Thanks!

  20. Jude Says:

    Very interesting salsa recipe — will steal this one from your site for sure. I’ll probably try a more pared down version and screw the recipe up.

  21. brilynn Says:

    I was curious about this watermelon salsa when I saw it too, but I definitely want to give it a try, it sounds fabulous!

  22. Haley Says:

    We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)


  23. Sarah Says:

    You know, it’s funny that you posted this because I’ve had watermelon salsa on the brain for quite a while now. Congrats on trying it out, I can see it must’ve tasted great!

  24. Nora Says:

    Hi mike,
    Interesting combination of flavours and I believe you when you said that it works.

    Have you tried mangoes in savoury dishes? That’s a fruit (either green or ripe) I like in dessert and savory foods.


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