Recado Rojo

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Sauces | Recado Rojo Image

(Mexican Yucatecan achiote spice paste)

Recados are Mayan spice pastes particularly popular in the Yucatán region of Mexico. A deep brick red, recado rojo is the most common, and is an essential ingredient of the region's famous slow-roasted pork dish, cochinita pibil. Use it as a flavoring rub for pork, chicken and fish. Premade recado rojo can be bought at Latin markets in brick-shaped packages.

Makes about 1/2 cup

Ingredients

  • Annatto seeds -- 2 tablespoons
  • Peppercorns -- 1 tablespoon
  • Whole cloves or allspice berries -- 5 or 6
  • Mexican dried oregano -- 2 teaspoons
  • Cumin seeds -- 2 teaspoons
  • Cinnamon -- 1 teaspoon
  • Salt -- 2 teaspoons
  • Garlic cloves -- 8 to 10
  • Sour orange juice or vinegar -- 1/4 cup

Method

  1. Place all of the spices and the salt into a spice or coffee grinder and process until the spices are fully pulverized. This may take some time, as annatto seeds are very hard. Pass it through a sieve if necessary to remove any grit.
  2. Place the garlic and sour orange juice or vinegar into a blender or small food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Place the spices into a bowl and stir in the garlic puree until the paste is smooth. Set aside for at least a few hours before using to allow the flavors to meld.
  4. Rub the recado into meats, poultry, fish or seafood a few hours before roasting or grilling it. Recado can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Variations

  • For an even deeper flavor, you can first toast the whole spices in a hot, ungreased skillet for a few minutes, stirring until they release their aroma.
  • For convenience sake you can use all ground spices. Grind up the oregano with your hand as much as possible to break the large flakes down into a powder. Ground annatto seeds can sometimes be found in Latin markets under the name achiote molido.
  • If you want, eliminate the cumin and cinnamon. Or add ground coriander.
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