Ancient Mayan Magic: Tikin Xic

Monahan's Seafood Market | Fresh Whole Fish, Fillets, Shellfish, Recipes, Catering & Lunch Counter-Ann Arbor, Michigan

Well, it’s back to the real world! Sorry about playing hooky on the fish report last week but my wife and I were in Mexico, on Isla Holbox, off northern Yucatan, relaxing and eating lots of fish and shellfish. Holbox is a small island with one small fishing village: soft white sand streets, lots of beautiful kids, bold colors, buildings of stucco and tropical hardwoods with palapa style roofs, friendly happy people. Even the many dogs, often sleeping in the middle of the street, looked totally contented. A very laid back place where the blue and turquoise colors of the sea and sky constantly change, muy tranquillo! The sunsets were gorgeous and the nights were clear with millions of stars.

isla holbox street

Our first fish dinner was a real treat, snook (robalo) is a fish that is a protected sport fish in the U.S. It’s one fish that I’ve always heard was a great food fish and game fish but never have had the pleasure to catch or to taste. When I saw that super fresh, still stiff, whole split fish sizzling over the hardwood coals I knew we were in for some good eating. Almost all the seafood we tried was grilled including some of my favorites like pompano, octopus and we really loved an old Mayan grilled fish preparation called Tikin Xic (pronounced teekeen sheek).

Originally this recipe was probably whole local fish like grouper, snapper or corvina that was rubbed with achiote (roasted annato seeds with herbs and chiles) and sour orange or other citrus juice, wrapped in banana leaves and placed over hot coals. We saw different variations of the recipe and as soon as we got home we experimented with a nice red snapper and it came out great! This recipe is a little detailed and requires a little time and shopping but it’s worth it. It’s fun to assemble the pouches and even though it’s a bit of work you can put them together ahead of time, then all you have to do is wing ‘em onto the grill and let them steam away. Great for entertaining! The smoky ancient deliciousness will hit ya in the face when you tear into the leaves.

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