Saturday, April 28, 2012
The Yucatan region draws visitors with dreamy beaches and fascinating archaeological wonders but I think the cuisine deserves just as much attention. Ancient Mayan cooking techniques and ingredients like the chaya pictured above, meld with Spanish spices to create some of the tastiest dishes in Mexico. There's a dizzying array of Yucatecan specialties but these are five of my favorites:
This leafy green vegetable is a hallmark of Yucatan dishes and healing. Chaya leaves boast more iron, calcium and potassium than spinach and regulates blood sugar. You'll see it in soups, stews and in drinks like the zesty Jugo Verde. Chaya pronounced (chi ya) can also be prepared as a simple side flavored with garlic, which is how I like it.
2. PESCADO TIKIN XIC
I never leave Mexico without consuming generous helpings of this grilled fish recipe, pronounced (teek n cheek). Fish, typically grouper or red snapper, is marinated in anchiote paste and then grilled in banana leaves. It's too delectable for words. The fish is adorned with a red appearance from the anchiote, that's the tikin xic above, with chaya, plantanos and Spanish rice. This was my favorite meal from La Casona de Valladolid.
This classic breakfast dish, pronounced (chill a key lays), can be spotted all over Mexico and the U.S. I absolutely love it and usually eat it every morning that I'm in the Yucatan region. It can be served with either rojo (red) or verde (green) sauce and features fried tortilla strips simmered in the sauce and topped with eggs, beans or meat. I usually choose red sauce with chicken, shown above.
You know that Yucatecan food must be really, really great if ceviche only makes it to the top 4. I adore this marinated fish or seafood dish and gobble lots of it in the U.S. but it's nothing like the fresh preparation in Mexico. Raw fish is marinated in citrus juice and seasoned with chiles, cilantro and chopped onions. Sometimes it's served with fruit as well, as you can see with the delectable passion fruit swirling around in the ceviche (se vee chay) above.
5.SOPA DE LIMA
This is one of the most popular classics of Yucatecan cooking and if you've ever sampled this soup of chicken, spices and bunches of sweet local limes, you'd know why. It's always served with fried tortilla strips for added crunch. Soups are actually invigorating in tropical climates, which is why this dish is a mainstay.