After my Interview with Richard Hetzler of Mitsitam Cafe, I thought I ought to take a closer look at foods from south of the border.
A look at Culinary Mexico (Gibbs Smith, 2005) by Daniel Hoyer convinced me it would be a good place to start.
The book introduces us to cuisines from 6 Mexican regions from Northern Frontier to Yucatan Peninsula.
Here's a dish with Native American roots.
Tikin-Xic, a Mayan Style Fish recipe
THIS FLAVORFUL AND COLORFUL FISH RECIPE is prepared along the coasts of the Yucatán and Quintana Roo. The usual method is to season a whole skin-on fillet of fish and wrap it in banana leaves with tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, and chiles, and then chargrill the entire package. Individual serving packets can also be made, or you may just season individual portions and cook them directly over the coals without the wrapper.
2/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon vinegar (pineapple or apple cider)
6 ounces Recado Colorado (see page 197) or commercial achiote condiment
1 whole fish fillet, 3 to 5 pounds, skin on or 8 to 10 individually portioned fillets
Salt and pepper
Several large banana leaves or heavy-duty aluminum foil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh oregano or cilantro leaves
3 to 4 roma tomatoes, sliced
1 to 2 sweet red or yellow bell peppers, cleaned and cut in 1-inch strips
1 large red onion, peeled and cut in thin slices, or 1/2 cup Cebollas
Moradas en Escabeche (see page 201)
2 or 3 yellow, hot, jalapeño, or fresno chiles split lengthwise, or 1 to 2 whole habanero chiles
3 to 4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
MAKES 8 TO 10 SERVINGS
1. Combine the fruit juices and vinegar with the recado or achiote seasoning to make a soft paste.
2. Season the fish with salt and pepper and rub the paste all over the fish.
3. Toast the banana leaves to make them pliable and place them shiny side up on the counter.
4. Place the fish in the center of the banana leaves or foil; scatter the oregano or cilantro evenly over the fish; and cover with the tomatoes, peppers, onion, and chiles. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive or vegetable oil.
5. Wrap the banana leaves completely around the fish and tie with small strips of the leaf or use foil to make a sealed package.
6. Place over hot coals or in a 400-degree-F oven and cook for about 15 minutes, turn over the package, and cook 15 minutes more. Only cook about 7 to 10 minutes for individual portions.
7. Turn back to the original position and cook 10 to 15 minutes more until the fish is done.
8. Open the package carefully and spoon some of the juices that formed from cooking over the fish.
(* Recipe from Culinary Mexico by Daniel Hoyer reproduced courtesy of Gibbs Smith, Photography by Marty Snortum)