20160914_192953Also great as a salad or even sandwich, my Mom created this fast and fresh recipe one evening when I stayed over, and from the first bite I was in love! It’s easy to make, inexpensive, and healthy.

I have always liked green bell peppers. As a child and teen I would eat them like apples. When I moved to the city I quickly discovered red, yellow, and orange peppers and their immense culinary potential. My mother is really great at throwing simple meals together using creative new sauces and herb combinations that are easy to grab from your cupboard or pantry.

20160914_183137I think I tend to cook like she does, “Let’s see, what protein do we have left over (or in the freezer). I need a vegetable, and grain… ah yes! These three will work!” So that is what this recipe is.

Whenever, (seriously, every time) I go to the store I check the discounted meat section, as well as the discounted bread and dry goods sections. We often joke, “Memaw is  staying over. You know what that means, Nathan? We’re having BEEF!” and although that is not always true we pretty much only eat beef if it’s discounted. I more often find pork at the right price, shooting for $2-3/lb, but sometimes there are perfect thin cuts of beef discounted and for around $5 I can add variety to our diet. Other than ground beef or sausage, we really NEVER buy meat full price. Just like this recipe that was originally thrown together with goods my mom had available, we try to make meals based off of the cuts available discounted. I like that this induces creativity and seriously saves us a lot of money. Long story short when I find said meat discounted, thin steaks, I make this recipe.

Warming a corn tortilla in a skillet before serving.

Warming a corn tortilla in a skillet before serving makes it nice and flexible.

I like to use thin cuts because they are not only cheap, but they broil really fast and are perfect since it’s going to be cut into thin slices anyway. Broil first is the important phrase here. Do NOT slice the raw meat and saute it. You will end up with really tough meat in your taco. You want to broil your whole cut to medium rare then slice it. This will make for a taco you can actually eat bite by bite instead of pulling all of the meat pieces out with the first bite. What if you like your meat well done? First, you are a fuddy-duddy, but then, in that case, I might suggest chopping it into small cube pieces instead of strips to avoid the above mentioned issue.

Now about this broiling. Andrew cannot cook a steak to save his life. That is all.

No, just kidding, but seriously I do all the steak broiling in our house. I like my steak medium rare. For those of you who either don’t know or think you know what medium rare is let me give you a little lesson.

When describing how well done you want your meat to be there are key phrases:

  • Blue Rare: “Seared on the outside, completely red throughout the inside.”
    • Cooked to 115F this meat still has a gel-like texture and is difficult to chew. It really isn’t a great doneness choice.
  • Rare: “Seared on the outside, with 75% red (or “red throughout”) center.”
    • Cooked to 120F and when allowed to rest after cooking this is considered one of the best doneness choices.
  • Medium Rare: “Seared on the outside, with 50% red remaining inside.” Can also be described as having a “cool red center.”
    • At 125-135F this stake can also be considered the perfect doneness.
  • Medium: “Seared outside with 25% pink through middle.” or “Warm pink middle”
    • At 135-145F this meat will always be a common choice, and though decent, it will be more dry and a little tougher than the more rare choices.
  • Medium Well: “Seared on the outside and done throughout with only a little pink in the center.”
    • 150-155F makes for steak that feels ‘safe’ to your average germ-a-phobe, but it comes with the cost of dryness and toughness.
  • Well Done: “No pink. 100% brown through the center.”
    • People do it all the time, and some people even eat it, but at 160+F this steak really isn’t giving you a prime eating experience.

There have also been long standing tests for steak doneness by comparing it’s texture when pressed to that of your thumb muscle. Blegh. This is my test:

20160914_192858Season your steak (salt, pepper, garlic – classic staple) and place it in a foil ‘boat’ on a baking sheet under a preheated broiler. We have an electric oven so this means one or two steps below your top rack option. (I tend to use that 3rd slot if I have a lot going on, just so I don’t risk over cooking my steak, and then I can raise it one slot for the last few minutes.)

After 3 minutes turn your steak. (This may be more if you use a lower rack)

When the juices start to flow and this side is crisping you know you are almost done. Flip it back over for a remaining 2 minutes, close to the broiler, so that the steak can crisp on the other side.

The key word for, “Is my steak done yet?” Juices Rendered.

I never use a meat thermometer. I don’t poke or squish my meat (or myself). I just let it broil until the juices flow and then crisp it. Now let it sit for a few minutes.

If you broiled off all the juice on your little foil boat you’ve overdone it.

If you neglect to save that juice for an excellent dipping sauce, you’re a fool. Just add a little of whatever seasoning you used to it, and you have magic!
…(Except for the recipe below where you will use the meat in something else instead of simply eating it as a steak.)

Ok, well I think I have gone on enough about how to cook steak. I do hope it helps you in your endeavor to make great tacos, though.

The last bit of advise for this recipe and for cooking vegetables in general, ‘Don’t over cook them!’

Pan-fried vegetables should always retain a small amount of crisp. If they can be squished with your tongue it is just and injustice! That goes especially for these tacos.

So the post about it might have been long, but this recipe is quite quick, and I hope it serves your family well. It is a good one.

A tortilla-less version of this meal served as a salad. Wonderful!

A tortilla-less version of this meal served as a salad. Wonderful!

Ponzu Tacos

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 each – red, yellow, and orange bell peppers; julienne
  • 1 medium onion; sliced in rings
  • 1 bunch spinach; washed and trimmed
  • 2 pounds petite sirloin or round steak; cooked to medium rare then sliced into this strips
  • extra thin corn* (or flour) tortillas
  • Ponzu citrus sauce


  1. Broil your steak whole to a rare or medium rare doneness. (See above for advice on the process.) Let rest.
  2. With a couple tablespoons of olive oil, in a large skillet, saute the bell peppers over medium-high heat, making sure to retain just a little bit of crispness.
  3. Slice the steak, add it to the skillet along with the bell peppers and a 1/4 cup of Ponzu. Saute for just a few moments. No more than a minute.
  4. Before serving gently heat each corn tortilla flat in a skillet over medium heat. This will make them soft and pliable.
  5. Generously fill each tortilla with fresh spinach, bell peppers and steak, and one more splash of Ponzu.
  6. Serve 3 to each plate for a self contained meal or with a side dish like rice or beans. Enjoy!

*The reason for extra thin corn tortillas? you get 3 shells for 120 calories, vs the small flour torillas which are 100 calories each.

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