Yucatan was long considered too far away from the rest of the country and got out of his isolation very recently. Having ports and contacts with Europe, New Orleans and Cuba, Yucatecans were influenced by many aspects of these countries. This explains why their food is an amalgam of flavours and techniques from the local Mayan culture, as well as Caribbean, European, African and Middle Eastern.
We offer you cooking lesson with Chilean native chef Eric Fischer. With him, learn the fundamentals of cooking in the Yucatan style using local ingredients.
And just to salivate, have a look to some essential culinary specialties:
Poc chuc is a Mayan version of barbecued pork. It consists of slices of tender pork marinated in a mixture of sour orange juice and spices, grilled, and served with a tangy sauce and pickled onions.
Cochinita and pollo pibil are considered as a luscious dish, the most reknowned of Yucatan food. It is made of pork or chicken marinating in sour orange juice, ground achiote and lots of other spices, wrapping in banana leaves and slow cooking overnight in an outdoor oven. Usually eaten with sauteed onions in a sandwich (torta) of soft french bread.
Ceviche (see picture) is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices and spiced with chilli peppers. Onion, salt, coriander and pepper may also be added and it is usually accompanied by side dishes as sweet potato, lettuce, corn or avocado.
Xcatic fish is a recipe gourmet prepared in the season of Lent by Yucatecan families and some other special occasions. It is fish fillet with a xcatic pepper sauce including onion, garlic, chiles xcatic, olive oil, tomatoes and cilantro.
La sopa de lima is made of shredded, lime-marinated turkey or chicken and topped with sizzling tortilla strips.
Salbutes are pre-cooked and soft tortilla with shredded chicken and garnished with lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado and fresh limes apart. Panuchos are a version of salbutes but have refried black beans inside the tortilla.
Queso relleno is also a gourmet dish featuring ground pork inside of a carved Edam cheese ball served with tomato sauce.
Tamales (see picture): each part of Mexico has their proper tamales but Yucatecan ones have a distinctly Maya flavor, filled with pork or chicken marinated in achiote (an earthy, mildly tangy paste made from the annatto seed) and cooked in an underground pit or oven.
Chile relleno (stuffed chili) is poblano chili stuffed with either cheese or ground beef and pork, raisins, capers and olives, then coated in a batter, fried and served with a tomato sauce on top.
Pavo en relleno negro is turkey meat stew cooked with a black paste made from roasted chiles, a local version of the mole de guajolote found throughout Mexico. The meat soaked in the black soup is also served in tacos, sandwiches and even in panuchos or salbutes.
Papadzules are chopped hard boiled egg rolled up in tortilla covered with pumpkin seed sauce and tomatoes.
Frijol con puerco: the Yucatecan version of pork and beans. Chunks of pork cooked with black beans, served with rice, and garnished with radish, cilantro and onion. A regular Monday dish in most Yucatecan homes.
Queso fundido, sometimes translated as "cheese fondue", is not as soupy. It consists of a stringy Oaxaca cheese melted in a ceramic bowl that you eat placing twirls in some chunks of a tortilla. It includes mushrooms, poblano chiles, chorizo sausage, cactus or diced meat.
Mole poblano: the sauce is made from 17 different ingredients that are ground up and blended. Mulato chiles, pasilla chiles, ancho chiles, mexican chocolate, peanuts, garlic, black pepper, cinnamon, raisins, cloves, peppercorns, almonds, anise seeds, coriander seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. It is served over either chicken or pork.
Enchiladas (see picture): basically made with corn tortillas dipped in the chosen enchilada sauce, which can be mole or green tomato sauce, stuffed with chicken or meat, rolled up, placed in a casserole dish and layered with sauce, cheese, cream and topped with chopped onions or crumbled white cheese.
Chilaquiles, popular at breakfast, are corn tortillas cut in strips or triangles, fried in oil and topped with a red or green tomato sauce then layered casserole style. Served with cream on top and sometimes shredded chicken.
If it a not a meal, Michelada is a very commun yucateca speciality. Meaning "my cold beer", it is a a beer, preferably a dark mexican beer like Negra Modelo, with a spicy concoction of lime, coarse salt, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, black pepper and Maggi seasoning. Without the Tabasco, soy, pepper and other seasonings, we call it Chelada: beer, lime and salt.