Steak Caracas Style
I was born in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. The Caracas that exists now
may not be the same I remember. I treasure my memories of the loud, smoky
city, with over five million inhabitants, where my alarm clock was the
increasing noise from car horns, and ambulances every morning.

I stood by my window, 17 floors up in the air, and looked down to observe how
the "concrete jungle" started to move along with the rising sun. Once I got
down there, everyone walked fast to reach their destination that morning, you
had to keep their pace, or you'd be walked over, literally! My goal every morning
was to try to catch an empty space in the subway, where my body could
perfectly fit parallel to the doors and get ready for all the bumps I'd get from
people coming in and out of each station. Other than the rush to reach places,
and the hours of long traffic jams; Caracas is a beautiful valley full of
traditions.

The reason I bring all this up is that of the name of this Venezuelan staple meal:
Bistec Caraqueño!

Caraqueño means you were born in Caracas, like me. I am assuming given
the name, this thin steak that appears in the menu of all local restaurants in
Caracas was born there as well. It is a straightforward recipe that cooks in
minutes and it's full of flavor. All the flavors that to me scream food made at
home with love. I use what I find at the store as sandwich steak, which is a
very thin cut of round beef. An inexpensive cut of meat that could be tough, but I
promise after you pound it a few times, it will cook very quickly and will end up
tender.

A quick marinade and lots of onions and tomatoes make this traditional dish a
favorite, commonly served with white rice or French fries. It is also common to
find this recipe with a fried egg on top, which is called "a Caballo" (on a horse)
— I have no idea where that term comes from, maybe I'll leave that for
homework.

Let's get cooking!
Ingredients
4 sandwich steaks
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil, separated
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large Spanish onion, or 2 medium
2 Roma tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste
Cooked white rice, to serve (optional)
Method
In a large cutting board, place the
steaks, cover with clear plastic wrap. Using a
meat tenderizer, or a rolling pin, pound the steaks to make them thinner
(it
should not be too thin that it has holes). This process will help break some
of the hard tissue and will reduce the cooking time. In a shallow bowl, add
minced garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, mustard, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce,
whisk to combine, and season to taste. Place the pounded steaks in the
marinade and set aside.

Slice the onion and tomatoes. In a medium sauté pan, heat the remaining
tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add two steaks at one time, it will bubble,
that's ok. Cook until the outer part starts to brown, about four minutes, flip over
to the other side, and cook until tender, about two minutes. Remove from the
pan and place into a serving plate, cover to keep warm. Repeat with the other
two steaks. Add 1 tablespoon water to the pan and add the onion. Season with
salt and pepper, cook occasionally stirring until tender, and it starts to
caramelize in about six minutes. Add the tomato slices, gently stir to combine.
Cook to warm them up, but you want them to keep their shape, about two
minutes. Top the steaks with the onion-tomato mixture, accompany with rice,
serve immediately. Enjoy!

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