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:
- 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!
- Nat Geo Expeditions