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What is achiote and what uses can you give it in the kitchen?

24 mayo, 2021

In the recipes of our mothers and grandmothers we have heard that they contain a very popular ingredient but that, curiously, we do not use much those of us who have little time in the kitchen: the achiote.

In case you did not know, achiote is a fundamental ingredient to prepare various traditional dishes, such as suckling pig. loin in adobo or meat al pastor.

Today we tell you what it is and how you can use it in your recipes so that you can enjoy its great taste.

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What is achiote?

Its name comes from Nahuatl achiotl, which means “red tincture.” It is an arborescent plant that grows in Mexico, regions of Central America and the warm Andean areas.

Achiote contains some seeds, in which its gastronomic value lies.

Since pre-Hispanic times, the Mayans used these seeds as a powerful crimson dye, which was used to dye fabrics, make makeup and also to color food.

As for its flavor, it is difficult to define it, since it is between earthy, smoky, peppery, spicy and sweet. That makes annatto an ideal ingredient to combine with various flavors.


(Photo: Getty Images)

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How is it used?

Not only in Mexico, but also in much of Latin America it is used as a rich condiment. The seeds are ground, made into a paste or melted in water or oil to be used in dishes.

If you want to use annatto in a recipe, the most practical thing is to look for it in ready-made pasta. You just have to add a little pasta to a broth, stew or sauce to enjoy its flavor.

It is also an essential ingredient for the preparation of chorizo ​​and longaniza, which helps it give it its characteristic color.

Do you know the traditional drink tascalate? Yes! In Chiapas, they use this ingredient to prepare it and give it an extraordinary flavor.

Obviously, if what you want to make is a delicious cochinita pibil, the achiote is a basic so that it remains with the original flavor of this dish.

So now you know: you can prepare many recipes with achiote and give your recipes a delicious and at the same time exotic flavor.

Discover more delicious and interesting ingredients for your dishes in Easy Kitchen