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Yucatan Achiote Baked Fish - Tikin Xic



Achiote is a beautiful paste from the Yucatan. It is made with annatto seeds, spices and garlic and imparts an earthy flavour and cheerful bright red colour to anything it is cooked with. Here we have marinated a large piece fish with achiote diluted with fresh citrus juice and baked until burnished. Served with black beans, pickled pink onions, Mexican white rice, corn tortillas and a salad of little gem and avocado.


Marinating the fish 

  1. Prepare your side of fish, remove pin bones and descale (ask your fishmonger to do this), rinse and pat dry. 
  2. Blend the achiote paste with the citrus juices until smooth, use a stick blender with a suitable jug if necessary.
  3. Pour the marinade over the fish ensuring you have coated all exposed flesh. Cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours. 

Mini gem and avocado salad (prepare just before you are ready to serve otherwise the avocados will go brown)

  1. Tear the little gem leaves into bite-size pieces. 
  2. Add the avocado. 
  3. In a separate bowl mix the salad dressing and put into the fridge until ready to serve. 

When you are ready to cook

  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC Fan. 
  2. Remove the fish from the marinade leaving most of it behind. Pat dry the skin side of the fish. For crisp fish skin, fry the fish skin side down in oil. 
  3. Frying can be tricky with a side of fish as it is larger than most pans. However, you can put a roasting tray over two burns on the stovetop at medium-high heat, add oil and when hot gently place the fish in skin side down. 
  4. Let cook undisturbed for 5 minutes or until the fish releases itself from the pan. 
  5. Then slide the fish into the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until just done.
  6. You can finish off the top of the fish with a blow torch, combining flavour by vapourising the fat and adding a bit of char. 
  7. Let sit to relax loosely covered with foil while you reheat the other side dishes (if you have made in advance).


  1. Remove salad from the fridge and then add just enough of the dressing to coat. The idea of this salad is to be light but zingy to balance the richness of the fish, rice and beans. Taste, adding more salt as necessary.
  2. Then strew the pink pickled onions on top, remembering that these will also add zing.
  3. Warm 8 corn tortillas in a Tortilla Warmer in the microwave.

Take everything to the table on warmed plates, serve with extra pink pickled onions and corn tortillas.