Cuban Fried Beef & My Failed Ninja Dreams

I showed up to the dinner table in my ninja suit and pulling out a large butterfly knife to cut my meat. We were having Vaca Frita (Cuban Fried Beef) and my butter knife just wasn’t sharp enough.

When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be either a paleontologist, a zoologist, a race car driver or a ninja bodyguard.

I was always ordering things out of comics and kung fu magazines and my parents were oblivious to it. “Hey Dad, can I have money for a She-Ra sword?” and “Hey Mom, I need to buy a pair of wall climbing ninja claws.”

I spent a good amount of my time running around the woods and setting booby traps. I didn’t want anyone sneaking up on me. All of those photos and stories my father shared with me from his days in ‘Nam really riled me up. I was prepared to protect my home from all sorts of incoming attacks.

All it took was a few slip-ups before my parents actually realized what I was up to and put an end to my career as Violet Séverine: Ninja Warrior Princess. The first “accident” was the day I got stuck climbing up the side of the house with my ninja climbing claws. My father had to pry me off the cedar paneling.

The second thing was showing up to the dinner table in my ninja suit and pulling out a large butterfly knife to cut my meat. We were having Vaca Frita (Cuban Fried Beef) and my butter knife just wasn’t sharp enough.

My ninja career was over and all my stuff was taken away. It was a brief but very exciting time. After that, I discovered horror films and decided I wanted to run a haunted house when I got older. But that’s another story.

 

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Vaca Frita (Cuban Fried Beef)
 

Serves 4-6

(for the broth)

2 lbs flank steak

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 sprig of parsley

1 garlic clove, cut in half

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp kosher salt

1 bay leaf

 

(for vaca frita)

½ cup fresh lime juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

1tsp adobo seasoning (or mix a little cumin, oregano, garlic powder, lemon pepper)

½ cup of olive oil

1 onion, sliced thinly

2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1 lime, quartered

 

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Place all of the broth ingredients in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, covered for 2 hours. Occasionally skim the foam off the top.

Remove the beef from the broth. Strain the broth and set aside for another use (you can use it to make Ropa Vieja or soup or whatever).

When the meat is cool, cut it into 2-3” chunks. Shred the meat by hand into strips. Toss the meat with lime juice, garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Let it marinate refrigerated for 1-2 hours

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In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until fragrant (don’t let it smoke and burn). Carefully toss in the beef and cook, stirring for 6 minutes. Add the onions and cook for another 6 minutes stirring the whole time. The beef should be crispy but tender and the onions should be translucent.

Toss with the parsley and serve with steamed white rice, avocado salad, papas con mojo (potatoes roasted with lemon and garlic), and a lime wedge. Cut with a ninja knife. Enjoy! xoxo