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Dad’s Fajitas with Ancho Chili and Cocoa Sauce

These past couple of weeks have been interesting for me, as I’ve been adhering to a low iodine diet in preparation for my radioactive iodine treatment. It just so happens that low iodine also means no dairy, so I thought I’d make my inaugural Milk is for Mutants recipe post with this delicious meal my parents cooked for me the other day. In addition to not being allowed to eat dairy, I also can’t have soy, or iodized salt (meaning nothing processed, basically), or anything from the ocean (fish, seaweed, sea salt, carageenan, etc.)–as well as a bunch of other stuff. It’s a tricky diet, but with a bit of imagination, I can still eat well.

My dad’s been making these fajitas for several years now, and every time he does, I gobble them up! They’re so incredibly delicious, and they’re not like anything else I’ve ever tasted. I believe he originally based the recipe on one he found in Sunset magazine, but his modifications are enough to make it entirely his own.

I love fajitas because you can basically add whatever you like to them and they’re still delicious. Experiment with this recipe!

Dad’s Fajitas with Ancho Chili and Cocoa Sauce

Serves 7.

1 flank steak (approx. 2 lbs)
2-4 dried ancho chilis
5-6 limes
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
kosher salt
garlic (optional)
6 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange)
4 small yellow onions
4 ripe avocados
Corn tortillas


Take stems off of 2 of the chilis, remove seeds, break them into little pieces, put into blender. Add boiling water to cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Squeeze the juice of 5 or 6 limes into it. Add 3 T brown sugar, 2 T cocoa powder. Add salt to taste (and garlic too if you want). Blend till smooth. Taste and adjust for your preferences. Add more rehydrated chilis if you want the sauce to be hotter and more flavorful.


You can cook the flank steak however you wish. The way he did it this time was to marinate it with some of the chili sauce (be sure to reserve at least 1/2 of the sauce, for the vegetables), and barbequed it medium-rare. He sliced it thin, added a bit more of sauce and sauteed it all briefly on the stovetop. You can also use chicken for this recipe and it’s just delicious. Substituting tofu strips would make this recipe vegan.


Cut bell peppers and onions into long strips. Sautee onions with hot vegetable oil until brown and caramelized. In a separate pan, sautee the peppers with hot vegetable oil until brown and soft, but not falling apart (they’ll probably take a bit longer than the onions). Mix the onions and the peppers, and toss them with the remaining 1/2 of the chili sauce until they’re thoroughly covered.

Finishing touches:

Heat tortillas in the oven, in tinfoil packets.

Cut avocados into long strips and put them in a bowl.

Put onions/peppers in separate bowl, and the meat in yet another dish.

Part of the fun of fajitas is that everyone gets to put their own together. Double up the corn tortillas (for structural integrity), and then pile with meat, peppers/onions, and avocados. Roll it all up and eat it with your hands. If you don’t get sauce everywhere, you’re not doing it right.

There is one glaring omission to this recipe and that is sour cream. One can easily make their own vegan sour cream using silken tofu, canola oil, lime juice, and a few other ingredients, but since I can’t eat soy right now, that’s a recipe for another day. Stay tuned!

One Comment

  1. Talia D'Abramo wrote:

    This looks super good. I definitely want to try it some time. The sauce seems like a version of a mole.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

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