Because there’s nothing like Yucatan cuisine to spark up an appetite, Amstar dmc‘s Marketing & Communication Executive Dorte Nielsen takes us on a culinary journey through one of Mexico’s most flavorful regions: the Yucatan Peninsula. [Article updated on July 1, 2015]
Mexican cuisine is as rich as it is diverse. In fact, many regions of the country have their own traditional fare that are easily identifiable with that particular part of the country. In the Yucatan Peninsula, that great distinction goes to the traditional Yucatecan cuisine.
Known for its majestic archaeological sites and picture perfect beaches on the Caribbean Sea, one aspect that often goes overlooked by visitors of the Yucatan Peninsula is the fact that it is also home to some spectacular cuisine. An intricate part of the region’s cultural heritage, Yucatan food is very distinct from that of other regions of the country.
To help you better understand the flavorful fare of the Yucatan Peninsula, here’s a list of some of the many different plates you should definitely try on your next visit to Cancun or the Riviera Maya.
Popular Dishes of Yucatan Cuisine
Sopa de Lima
Photo credit: Hacienda Petac
A very tasty kind of chicken soup with a twist! It is based on a light chicken broth and served with shredded chicken, deep fried tortilla chips, and what in the Yucatan Peninsula is known as lima. Not to be confused with limes or lemons, the lima is a less acidic citrus fruit similar to lime but more sweet like an orange. Intriguing? Wait till you try it!
Small, handmade corn tortillas, stuffed with beans and then fried in oil or lard. They are served with shredded lettuce, some meat such as chicken, turkey or pork, tomato and onion, previously seasoned with sour orange and salt. You should also try them with avocado, carrot, and colorado (a paste of pipian, chile, and achiote, also known as annato seeds). The panucho is said to have originated in Merida by a street vendor out of his typical ingredients but wanting to serve his hungry customers. That, however, is a story for another post.
Corn flour tortillas, deep fried in oil until they inflate and get crispy. They can be served with ground beef, chicken, or shredded turkey and are seasoned with tomato and lettuce, avocado slices, and chopped red onion. Ask for some refried black beans as a side dish. In fact, ask for panuchos and salbutes so that you can savor the flavor of both of these staples of Yucatecan cuisine.
These delicacies consist of corn tortillas soaked in a sauce made with pumpkin seeds, stuffed with eggs, and then bathed in a sauce of tomato with some habanero chili and onion. They are often garnished with chopped red onion and habanero chili, as well. Be careful with the habanero, it can be quite hot! Remember, if you’re not out for a spicy adventure, make sure to tell the vendor: sin picante, por favor! (Hold the spicy, please!)
A real feast for your senses, this dish is basically pork meat marinated in achiote, wrapped in a banana leaf, and cooked in an earth oven. According to some recipes from the early 1900’s, the entire pork (after some preparations, mind you) was baked in the earth oven. The cochinita pibil is accompanied with red onion in a sauce made with sour orange juice and habanero. It is usually eaten in tortas (a kind of sandwich) and tacos. This dish is also made with chicken; the famous Pollo Pibil. However you eat it and whatever meat you choose, Cochinita Pibil is definitely pulled pork paradise!
Photo credit: Sal Revista
Of course, we cannot forget the picturesque kibis. You can find people walking around the beaches with a glass box perched on their heads and shouting their singsong proclamation of “kibis… kibis!” Kibis are made with mashed wheat and ground beef or pork, and seasoned with some spearmint, garlic, and onion. They are oval or round in shape and deep fried. You should always eat them with some chopped red onions and, if you dare, habanero chili. These delicious darlings of Yucatan cuisine were actually brought to the region at the beginning of the 19th century by Lebanese immigrants. Today, they are a staple of the culinary heritage of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Don’t miss the opportunity to delve into the tantalizing world of Yucatecan food on your next trip with Amstar dmc to the Mexican Caribbean! The leading provider of Cancun airport transfers and Riviera Maya excursions, we’re online and in destination 365 days a year!