The history of fajitas is short, flavor is not. Most folks aren’t hell-bent on pondering the origin of the foods they like, but I occasionally like to go back and figure out how they came into being. The word “fajita,” as a reference to a particular food, didn’t even appear in print until 1975, about the time I became obsessed with Mexican cuisine. Yet, within a decade, it had become the hottest food craze in the country.
BTW, the word derives from the Spanish “faja,” for “girdle” or “strip”—thus the less desirable cut of meat. Technically, only beef has a fajita, but over the years, the term has been corrupted to mean any kind of meat or seafood wrapped in a tortilla. Its popularity lies in the fact that it’s a delectable combination of flavors and textures, and can be assembled with such ease.
Yes, you can buy the prepackaged stuff, but if you make homemade seasoning, not only does it taste really good, it’s cheaper than buying pack after pack of store-bought, lasts for ages and is full of only what you put in there—herbs and spices!
It’s really impressive if you have a fajita skillet that you can bring to the table sizzling hot. Although we pretty much have every other cooking vehicle, that is one we lack. But don’t fret, it’s just as easy to make them in a cast-iron skillet—and the fajitas taste just as amazing; and they are in actual fact, very healthy.
The most important thing when making fajitas is the marinade. This not only makes the ingredients incredibly tender, but also full of flavor. If you are feeling really adventurous, go ahead and make a side of Bobby Flay’s Avocado Crema. It adds a cool soothing note to the spicy fajita marinade. Recipe follows at the end.
We happened to have some already grill-charred long hot green peppers. I slit them in half, removed the seeds and stems, chopped them up and added them to the skillet at the end—they provided a nice little kick. If your meat seems a little too rare when you slice it, don’t worry, it will cook a bit more in the last stages when you add it back to the skillet with the peppers and onions.
Sizzling Steak Fajitas
- 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
- 1 1/2 lbs. skirt or flank steak
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced (preferably two different colors)
- 2 large onion, sliced into half moons
- Avocado crema, for serving* (see below)
- Cilantro, for serving
- 1 package, 10 flour tortillas
- In a large ziploc bag, toss steak in seasoning mixture (see below) with olive oil and lime juice. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, or preferably, up to 4 hours.
- Heat stovetop burner to medium-high. Place a cast-iron skillet directly on hot burner and drizzle a thin layer of olive oil to coat. Add onion and bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, shake off excess marinade from steak and season both sides with salt and pepper. Place in skillet, return to a medium hot burner, and cook to your liking, about 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare, 125°F.
- Let rest 10 minutes before slicing against the grain into thin strips.
- Add sliced steak to skillet with veggies and reheat all for about one more minute.
- Garnish steak and veggies with cilantro and serve immediately with warm tortillas, avocado crema and cilantro.
Homemade fajita seasoning, hurray! A spice mix so tasty, so versatile, it can be used as taco or burrito seasoning too.
- 1 tsp. Cumin
- 1 tsp. Chilli powder
- 1 tsp. Paprika
- 1 tsp. Dried Oregano
- 1 tsp. Sugar
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp. Onion Powder
- Mix together all the seasonings in a small bowl.
- Use the spice mix whenever you would use a store-bought version—generally mix it in with your meat and/or vegetables in the skillet/pan. (Add a couple tablespoons of water if you see the seasoning clumping in the pan.)
Bobby Flay's Avocado Crema
Makes enough as a condiment for 12 small fajitas
- 2 ripe Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup water
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine the avocados, water, lime juice, rice vinegar and honey in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add the cilantro, salt and pepper and blend a few seconds just to incorporate.