Yucatecan Fish with Achiote

A classic fish dish from the Yucatán Peninsula. From Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte, courtesy of Phaidon.

Tikin Xik, pronounced “teekeen sheek” means “dry fish” and is a classic Yucatecan dish that gets its bright orange-red color from the seed of the annatto tree. The achiote seed is blended into a paste and, in this recipe, mixed with orange juice and slathered over the fish before being wrapped in banana leaf, smothered with onions and cooked in an earth pit. This method of wrapping the fish in a leaf assures a tender, moist cook. Here, a traditional oven substitutes for the natural pit and does the trick. – Editor’s Note

This recipe for Tikin Xik is reprinted from Margarita Carrillo Arronte’s cookbook Mexico: The Cookbook, published by Phaidon Press. Click here to purchase your own copy.


  • lb grouper, filleted
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons lard or butter
  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 – 1 habanero chile, membrane and seeds removed
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 banana leaf
  • sea salt and pepper
  • plantains, to serve
  • refried beans, to serve

Serves 6


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ªF
  2. Place the fillets in a shallow dish. Add the orange juice and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Put the achiote and vinegar in a small bowl, and stir until dissolved.
  3. Pour the mixture over the fish, cover with plastic wrap (cling film), and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  4. Grease a large ovenproof dish with some of the lard or butter. Remove the fish from the marinade and place the fish opened out in the dish. Spread with the remaining lard, then put the onion, tomatoes, bay leaves, chile, and bay leaves, chile, and bell peppers on top.
  5. Wrap the fish with the banana leaf, then cover with aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the fish is cooked but not dry.
  6. Serve with plantains and refried beans.