Bricia Lopez On The Art Of Asada

Bricia Lopez and Javier Cabral's book Asada is a beautiful guide to create asada ―Mexican-style grilled meat ― at home. In millions of backyards across Southern California, an asada means a gathering of family, friends, great music, cold drinks, good times, and community, all cantered around the allure of juicy, smoky grilled meat with flavours and spices traditional to Mexico.
The smell of asada is a cloud of joy that lingers in the streets of Los Angeles. Conjure it yourself with her stunning recipes...

Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling by Bricia Lopez with Javier Cabral (Abrams, £30). Photographs copyright © 2023 Quentin Bacon

What’s the one dish to make anyone fall in love with your new book?

Because the name of the book is “Asada'. ' I was very intentional and worked very hard to make sure I had the perfect carne asada marinade. My ultimate goal was to recreate the same carne asada flavours you would find at an LA carnicería.

Everyone here in LA has a go-to carnicería spot they love. It has a very distinct flavour that is almost impossible to replicate, but I can say with confidence that I was able to achieve it, which was one of the most proud moments of my book writing journey.

What ingredients are always stocked in your pantry?

I always have dry chiles such as Chile guajillo, moritas, ancho and chile de arbol. Dry chiles are one of those ingredients that people underestimate, but give so much flavour in any dish.

I also love vinegars, everyone should have at least 2 -3 vinegars at home.  Citrus, Rice and a rich balsamic

The third one for me is Salt, definitely. My favourite salt has to be sea salt.  But again, every pantry should have a fine sea salt, and a high end finishing salt.  I love salt!

You of course can’t have a complete pantry without dry herbs. Dry oregano is a must!

Last but not least, oils!  A nice hight heat oil like avocado oil or grapeseed along with a nice finishing olive oil. You def need both!

MORE: Browse all Mexican food and ingredients

What is one kitchen tip everyone should know?

I think everyone should know you shouldn’t be frying anything in olive oil.  You will forever ruin your pans. It's wild to know how many people still use olive oil as if it was a high heat oil. I always recommend either grapeseed, peanut or avocado oil for hight heat cooking like frying.

What dish do you make most often?

Frijoles de olla for sure. I make frijoles a lot.  I even have a dedicated bean pot on my stove. Beans are a huge part of my life. Frijoles con nopalitos are nutritious, delicious and super easy to make. You can always add cheese, radishes, salsa, avocados all on a tortillas. Simple and delicious

What is one recipe everyone should try from the book?

The elotes asados with roasted garlic butter, I think everybody is already familiar with roasted corn, especially with the Mexican street corn taste.

I made it my own by adding roasted garlic to the mayo, along with a few other spices. The flavours are incredibly intense and the sweetness of the garlic works perfectly with the corn. 

What will surprise people in your book?

I think that something that will surprise everyone is that even though the name of the book is “Asada”, the recipes go beyond a simple carne asada marinade.  To us “going to an Asada '' or “being invited to the asada '' is more like friends and family getting together,  having a fun time. It’s almost like a party but not quite a rager. It's just a fun time with loved ones, with food at the centre of it all.

I think that'll surprise people because most think of an “Asada” as just a taco and they just don't know how important that word is in our culture. And yeah, the book is about Asada marinades,  but there are so many dishes like Ceviches, aguas frescas, cocktails, and anything and everything that makes an Asada what it is.  

Lamb Barbecoa

 What makes a great comfort dish for you?

A great comfort dish for me has to be eaten with your hands. You can't have comfort food if you have to eat it with a fork and a knife. Also, for me, a great comfort dish is a food tha reminds you of beautiful childhood memories and a dish, you go to sleep thinking about and wake up the next day craving for more

How did you decide what recipes you were going to include - and which to exclude?

Every summer and 4th of July I host my family in my house for a 4th of July Asada.   I also have birthday asadas for my kids or just random asadas as an excuse for friends to come together.

So for me, it was very easy- the dishes that were finished at their entirety were the in and the ones that were left were cut.

And which do you think is the biggest crowd-pleaser ?

I think that my biggest crowd-pleaser is the chicharron and cheese board. I know a lot of people are familiar with the traditional charcuterie boards that have cheeses, crackers and cured meats. But many don’t know about Mexico’s version.  Everytime my dad has people over his house in Oaxaca, he always has an array of  chicharron, different types of cheeses, he has salsas, Pickle jalapeños, chips, dry chorizo and chapulines.  All of  these appetizers welcome people before they get to the entree.  Also, usually when they come over to my house everyone´s hungry so it is the first thing to fill their belly and the one that makes them the happiest to see.

What is your favorite ingredient to work with and why?

My favourite ingredients to work with are vinegars. I love vinegars. I think that a lot of people don't add enough vinegar like citrus and acid to their cooking.   I think vinegar and salt are in everything I make.   I love discovering vinegars, right now one of my favorite vinegars I'm using is a pineapple vinegar that is very popular in Mexico and it's not often use here in the US.  Also, if  you don’t have to have access to the fresh citrus, vinegars are a great alternative to brighten up and enhance any sauce, marinade, or dish in general

 MORE: Feeling inspired? Check out all Mexican ingredients


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