I love discovering new food, which is one of the great things about travel—if you do it right, it opens you up to all kinds of strange flavors you would never have known existed.

No matter how many times I’d traveled to Mexico before, I had never heard of sikil pak until I came to Campeche. That’s because the very flavorful and aromatic roasted pumpkin seed dip is particular to this one state within El Mundo Maya.

Sikil (tomato) pak (pumpkin seed) is a classic Maya dish that the people of Campeche have been eating for at least a millennium. Like so many Maya dishes, the ingredients are very simple but their combination makes for an outstanding and delicious result.

Lucky for me, Chef Elias Che of Hacienda Uayamon taught me the basics of creating sikil pak. Like all good chefs, he didn’t measure anything out, so this recipe is based purely on what I gleaned from our morning together:

Sikil Pak

  • 1 chargrilled tomato per person (grill over a flame on your stove or on a barbecue)
  • ½ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (using any other kind of orange juice will ruin the flavor)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Pepita morada (pumpkin seeds, roasted and ground into a fine powder)

Skin and chop the tomato, add salt and pepper then blend for 10 seconds with orange juice. Pour liquid into a bowl and stir in several heaping spoonfuls of the pumpkin seeds until you arrive at a thickened consistency. Goes very well with corn chips and a cold cerveza!

Comments

  1. David Sterling
    Mérida, Yucatán
    February 21, 2012, 3:20 pm

    I am so curious about this “pepita morada”. That would mean “purple squash seed” and even though I have worked as a chef of Yucatecan cuisine for close to 10 years here, I have never heard of it. I wondered if perhaps you mean “pepita molida” which is what the toasted, ground seeds are called. In any case, if the chef at Uayamon knows of a purple seed I would love to know more about it. I also wondered if he used the juice of naranja agria rather than naranja china (that is, sour orange rather than sweet orange). That would be more common here. Anyway the results look delicious! I enjoyed seeing how he mixed the two components in the shallow plate. Thanks!

  2. Conexus International
    February 21, 2012, 6:35 pm

    Looks delicious!

  3. Jen Smith
    Burlington, Vermont
    March 26, 2012, 12:21 pm

    What a great story! I was also wondering about the pepita morada. I recently made sikil p’ak with a recipe that I learned in Izamal that’s somewhat different than yours:http://www.thenomadicoven.com/sikil-pak

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    June 28, 2012, 12:31 am

    This really answered my problem, thank you!