Vaca Frita


  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 small limes, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Mojo Criollo


Seasoning Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon salt


  • Serving Size: 4
  • Cook time: 30 Minutes

Vaca Frita (“fried cow”) is a close cousin of Cuba’s famous Ropa Vieja, a signature shredded beef dish seasoned with traditional Cuban mojo sauce, and prepared in a tomato-based sofrito

The beef for vaca frita, however, is marinated in lime, garlic and salt, then seared until crispy. The key to achieving the perfect texture is to cook the beef in small batches, so it sautées rather than steams.


  1. Marinade the steak in Mojo Criollo for two hours.
  2. Place the steak in a pot, and add just enough water until the meat is covered.
  3. Cover the pot and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 ½ hours.
  4. Remove pot from heat, and allow the contents to cool down.
  5. When the steak is still warm but not especially hot, remove from pot.
  6. On a plate, shred the beef using two forks, or pull the beef apart using your fingers.
  7. Add the seasoning ingredients and lime juice, mixing them into the beef using your hands. Set aside.
  8. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat.
  9. Add the onions and sautée until the onions are tender (about 5-8 minutes).
  10. Turn the heat up to medium-high, then add the shredded beef. Cook the beef for 5-15 minutes, until crispy.
  11. Remove from heat and serve with lime wedges.
  12. Serve by itself, with a side of white rice, or with Moros. Include a side of fried plantains if you’d like to add a sweet element to your meal.

Recipe by Maria Salas