Jan 18, 2021

Cooking in Cancun

I haven’t written in a while because, guess why, there is not a lot of travel happening especially since so many counties will not allow Americans to visit.  When the weather was better I did travel within New York State. But, when I came to the realization that the United States was the least safe place covid-wise I decided to take a trip.  A little research led me to feel that Cancun was doing a great job in mitigating the spread of Covid so I booked a trip to Cancun staying at the InterContinental Presidente.  I was impressed.  Everyone was wearing masks, there was hand sanitizer in many, many places, when a guest left the hotel the room was cleaned and not occupied for another 72 hours, and articles like towels and silverware were sanitized and wrapped. 

I contacted Yum Cooking Workshop, (www.yumcancun.com, yumcancun@hotmail.com, 52  99 8460 7371, Calle tres palos # 10, Supermanzana 30, Cancún, México. C.P. 77509) to see about a cooking demonstration. The usual class starts with Mayan coffee, traditional bread called plaque, and learning about preHispanic and colonial cuisine including trying some local fruits.  Visitors then move to the tasting room where the sommelier explains the types of tequila and mescal and how to taste them. Participants prepare and enjoy a six-course authentic Mayan meal that is paired with Mexican wines.

The class was more than I was interested in and told him I was only interested in one traditional recipe. I quickly accepted chef, Andres Tejeida Vilches, offer to show me how to make a Mayan fish recipe.  He used a local sour orange, Naranja Agria, which was very juicy but said getting it may be difficult for many but said adding one-half cup of lime juice to

one cup of orange juice makes a perfect substitute. Achiote comes in paste and liquid form but Chef Andres said the paste provide a better flavor. Banana leaves are often brittle so Chef Andres suggest passing the leaves over the heat for a few seconds and it will become soft. If banana leaves are not easy to come by then aluminum foil can be used.  When I was in Sri Lanka banana leaves were used as plates.  Dollops of food were placed on different part of the leaf.  Made for easy cleanup and eco-friendly. Chef Andres demonstrated how to make Tikin’xic Fish.


½ (one-half) cup achiote paste

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1tsp dry oregano

1 cup orange juice

½ (one-half) cup lime juice

1 pd grouper or snapper filet

½ (one-half) cup fresh cilantro, diced

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced

1 bell pepper, Julianne

½ (one-half) red onion, sliced

2 banana leaves, remove spine creating two pieces

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper – to taste

In a blender add achiote paste, garlic, oregano, orange juice, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of salt to create a marinade. Blend for at least 1.5 minutes so the paste is completely dissolved. Put fish in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the fish. Add the cilantro.  Let the fish sit for at least 1 hour. It will be red.  Place the fish on the banana leaves. On top of the fish place the sliced tomatoes, bell peppers and red onions, season with salt and pepper. Wrap the fish. Bake for 10 minutes 350° F. Serve with rice and fried plantain.