The achiote is a seed of a bush from the tropical areas of America. This seed is very appreciated in the cuisine for its coloring power and for its usage as a spice or condiment. It is a basic ingredient in the preparation of numerous dishes of the Mexican cuisine as it is used to season traditional recipes like the cochinita pibil, the tacos al pastor, ball tamales and many more dishes...
The achiote paste gives to the dishes a flavor that is elaborated, strong, peppery, spicy, slightly smoky, sweetish and with nutty notes. As we have mentioned it is also a natural colorant, because all what it touches turns to a reddish color.
This recipe is typical of Yucatan, it is used in various typical Yucatecan dishes and it is has been associated as Yucatan’s flavor. Although this condiment goes further back in history as it is of Mayan origins and it was widely used in their kitchen and painting.
This paste is also known as “red recado" and in Yucatan is very easy to get it because it is sold at any stall, where they are arranged in columns and they look like little bricks.
About the Recipe
Making the achiote paste is easy but laborious.
The preparation of this paste requires a good spice grinder. The spices are a very important part of the seasoning that we get in the final result.
The achiote paste is prepare with bitter orange, if you don’t get it you can substitute it for 1/4 cup of sweet orange mixed with 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
The texture of this paste must be thick, just a little softer than a plasticine block.
The achiote is soaked for 1 day and then the preparation takes .
If the paste comes out too thick, you can add more bitter orange juice and white vinegar in the same quantities, until achieving the desired consistency.
Season Your Favorite Dishes
Tip: If you have some achiote seeds left you can put one cup of oil (olive or vegetable) in a skillet over low heat, add the achiote seeds that were left and leave them frying for about 5 minutes. Then strain the oil and you will have a delicious achiote oil that will give a great seasoning to any dish.
Variations: We remind you that what you just prepared is the red recado and there is also the steak recado and the black recado.