Yucatan is the most visited part of Mexico, mostly because of its unbelievably beautiful sandy beaches and turquoise waters, fascinating nature and marine life. The Yucatan Peninsula however has even more to offer beyond the famous resorts of Cancun and Tulum: its unique culture and history. And what can be a better way to experience it rather than through food? Heavily influenced by Mayan and European cultures, the traditional foods prepared in this region are full of flavor and unique ingredients. Take a look at our list of 15 foods that you must try in the Yucatan Peninsula!
1) Sopa de Lima
Image Source: The London Foodie
Sopa de Lima is considered the chicken noodle soup of the Yucatan Peninsula. This chicken soup has a tangy kick of sour lima, or Citrus Limetta – if you want to get technical – which is grown everywhere in the region, that leaves you feeling refreshed and full.
2) Cochinita Pibil
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This is by far one of the most popular dishes of the Yucatan Peninsula. Cochinita Pibil is pork, baby pig to be exact, that is marinated overnight in bitter orange juices, seasoned with achiote paste and other spices, wrapped in fresh banana leaves then cooked in an earthen pit, or pib. Pollo Pibil is another variation of this dish where pork is replaced with chicken.
3) Huevos Motuleños
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A typical breakfast served in the small city of Motul located in the North-West of the Yucatan Peninsula is Huevos Motuleños. This dish originated from Motul, hence the name, and is made up of a combination of ingredients and flavors. Eggs, tortillas, black beans, cheese and other various foods can be added to this delicious breakfast.
4) Pavo en Relleno Negro
Image Source: The London Foodie
Pavo en Relleno Negro may not be an eye catcher, but it’s a book that shouldn’t be judged by its cover. This stew like dish consists of perfectly seasoned turkey in a relleno negro sauce. This sauce is what makes this dish so tasty with its numerous ingredients. The key ingredient to the sauce is burnt chiles de arbol, which give the sauce its black color.
5) Queso Relleno
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Normally prepared on special occasions, but so delicious you should eat it whenever you want! Queso Relleno is a clash of flavors and cultures all in one. Its signature ingredient is Edam cheese, a famous Dutch brand, which is stuffed with beef, onions, tomatoes and raisins (there are different variations available).
Salbutes are basically the Yucatan version of Tostados. They’re made of a puffed deep fried tortilla then smothered with pulled chicken or turkey, avocado, cabbage and pickled red onion and jalapeño. You can usually find them in Panucherias; fast food type restaurants.
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Panuchos are like a cousin to Salbutes. They are made exactly the same way except that Panuchos have tortillas filled with refried black beans.
8) Pescado Tikin-xic
In Yucatan Mayan the word Tikin-xic means “dry fish”. Pescado Tikin-xic is a whole fish prepared and marinated with the classic achiote paste, adobo and bitter oranges. To cook, its wrapped in banana leaves and put in an earthen oven.
9) Pan de Cazón
Image Source: Sergio Davila
Pan de Cazón is another dish you must try even though you might be afraid of one of the surprises inside! This casserole like delicacy is prepared the same way you would make lasagna, but with different ingredients. Tortillas, black beans, refried beans, and the main ingredient… shark!
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In the Yucatan Peninsula they put a spin on their Tamales. Normally Tamales consist of corn-based dough stuffed with meats, cheeses, vegetables or fruits and then wrapped in dried corn husks. Now, what makes the ones in the Yucatan Peninsula so different is that they are wrapped in banana leaves, not corn husks, which produce a different end result.
Papadzules can be compared to enchiladas since both dishes look quite similar. However Papadzules are corn tortillas dipped in a pumpkin-seed sauce and filled with chopped hard-boiled eggs. A great option if you want to try a lighter plate.
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Adapted from Lebanese culture, Kibis are a football shaped fried food. They are typically made of rough ground wheat which is then filled with different meats and cheeses. To finish it off, it is deep fried and topped with shredded cabbage, pickled red onion and jalapeño.
13) Arroz con Pulpo
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Another light and refreshing food to try in the Yucatan Peninsula is Arroz con Pulpo. This warm salad consists of rice, chopped octopus, red peppers, onions, herbs and sweet fruits like mango or papaya.
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Chilaquiles are another dish that has received their own special touch from the Yucatan Peninsula. Baked tortilla chips with salsa (verde or rojo), onions, cheese, sour cream, eggs and sometimes beans are all ingredients in this dish. In the Yucatan Peninsula, Chilaquiles have a unique taste by including local spices and flavors.
Image Source: Taavi Randmaa
Marquesitas are one of the most beloved desserts in Yucatan and you will see it being sold everywhere from the street stalls. It is basically a crispy wafer, which is made right in front of you and filled with delicious fillings like cheese or nutella.
Do you have other favourite foods in Yucatan which you think we missed out? Let us know in the comments, and we will gladly add them!