Bricia Lopez’s Citrus and Spice Costillitas

Bricia Lopez's Citrus and Spice Costillitas

Bricia Lopez’s Citrus and Spice Costillitas uses flank beef ribs, the same type used for Korean-style kalbi. (Abram’s Books)

Los Angeles chef-restaurateur Bricia Lopez, the author of “Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling” with food blogger Javier Cabral, says this recipe for costillitas was inspired by the dried chile and citrus flavor combination found in so many Mexican sweets and marinades.

“Now you can make your own,” says Lopez. “You can double or quadruple the yield and store any leftover spice mix—before adding (the liquid)—in a container with a tight-fitting lid in your pantry for later.”

Chile citrus powder is amazing on flank steak—short ribs cut across the bone like you would for Korean kalbi—but it’s also wonderful with potatoes, chicken, or pork.

Citrus and Spice Costillitas

Server 4


1 teaspoon guajillo chile powder

1 tsp smoked chipotle powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp dried coriander

¼ teaspoon dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Zest and juice of 1 lime (approx. 2 tablespoons)

Peel of ½ large orange

Juice of 2 large oranges (about ¾ cup)

2 pounds flank beef ribs (or Korean-style short ribs)

To serve: warm tortillas, salsa of your choice


Add guajillo powder, chipotle powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, dried cilantro, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime zest and juice, and orange zest and juice to a bowl. Whisk to combine.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Use a gallon size resealable bag to add the marinade and meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Remove the steaks from the refrigerator to come to room temperature before grilling, if possible. Start a charcoal or gas grill. The gas must be set to high. If using a pellet grill, preheat your grill to 450 degrees for at least 15 minutes. If charcoal is used, the coals should be red, but completely covered with gray ash.

Remove the steaks from the marinade and place them on the grill directly over the fire. Close the lid and cook, turning once, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes. Cut the meat against the grain. Serve with warm tortillas and salsa.

– Bricia Lopez, “Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling” (Abrams, $40)

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