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Carne Asada Tacos with Aji Amarillo Crema

The #tacotuesday you only dreamt about until now… these carne asada tacos with aji amarillo crema are delicious and REAL. Light, flavor-packed, and a little spicy, these Peruvian inspired tacos will be a hit!

The Inspiration Behind These Tacos

One of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area, Cholita Linda, inspired this recipe. It has been in the works for some time now but it all started 2 years ago when I dined at their restaurant and fell in low with the aji amarillo sauce served with the best homemade thick tortilla chips. I would stare at the sauce, looking at the specks of red and black, assuming it to be paprika and black pepper. After multiple tries and taste tests, I think this recipe comes very close!

What is Aji Amarillo?

Aji simply means chili pepper and amarillo means yellow in Spanish. It plays a huge role in Peruvian cuisine. In fact, it’s a part of their Holy Trinity in cooking, the other two being red onion and garlic. They are grown all over Peru but unlike some other peppers, they have a fruity taste accompanying the spice. If you’re used to cayenne, aji amarillo won’t be too spicy. It’s even said to have hints of mango and passionfruit.

If you can’t find any at a local international grocer or supermarket, you can purchase Doña Isabel’s version off Amazon.

The Protein

These tacos can be filled with just about anything from chicken to shrimp to black beans for a vegetarian option. What never fails me though is a solid carne asada. Thick, juicy cuts of skirt steak with the perfect charred exterior and medium interior. If you never made your own marinade for carne asada, it’s so simple and so quick. You just need lots of citrus which helps to tenderize the skirt steak even more!

The Tortilla

  1. Use flour tortillas.
  2. Make sure tortillas are street taco size AKA mini.
  3. Brush them with the carne asada juices.
  4. Toast them on a pan until crispy on the edges and golden brown.
  5. Eat warm!


8-12 Mission street taco mini flour tortillas
1 pound skirt steak
2 tablespoons mild fire-roasted diced green chilis
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 whole orange, juice
1 whole lime, juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
2 tabelspoon aji amarillo paste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 lime, juice
2 oz cotija cheese, crumbled (sauce)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cotija cheese, crumbled (topping)
optional: iceberg lettuce, cilantro, lime wedges


In a large bowl, add skirt steak along with diced green chilis, minced garlic cloves, orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin. Coat steaks evenly, cover, and allow to marinade for 30 minutes to an hour or more.
In a food processor, add aji amarillo paste, mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, vinegar, black pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, lime juice, and crumbled cotija. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. Set aside in a small bowl.
Over medium-high heat, add olive oil to a large heated pan or skillet. Once the pan and oil are both hot, add the steak. Cook the steak about 5-7 minutes, each side, depending on thickness. The outside should have a slight char and caramelization with the inside being medium to medium well.
Once the steak is done, take off the heat and allow to rest for five minutes on a cutting board. Slice against the grain into small cubes (think of Chipotle sized cut steak).
Coat the tortillas in any excess steak juices and grill on the pan over medium heat until each side has golden brown marks and the edges are crispy.
Assemble the tacos by adding the chopped steak, a drizzle of aji amarillo crema, cotija, chopped cilantro, a lime wedge, and even some shredded iceberg lettuce for more crunch and freshness.

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