Preparing food from another culture is armchair travel at its finest: instead of looking at pictures or passively hearing a story, your family can eat their way through the globe. From another perspective, those who eat a specially prepared meal from their homeland can be a nostalgic experience- one that stirs up happy memories. For my husband, who was born and spent most of his life in Mexico City, tacos al pastor will always remind him of hanging out with friends and stopping with them at a street vendor to eat the juicy pork tacos, topped with pineapple, cilantro and onion. Fried quesadillas remind him of evenings when his parents would spontaneously take him and his siblings in their pajamas to grab a quick bite to eat on the weekends. The smell of mole verde transports him to his grandma’s house, and warm family dinners around her dining room table. Cochinita pibil, an achiote-rubbed, tender pork dish, reminds my husband of a wonderful road trip he took with his family throughout the Yucatan Peninsula (where his grandfather is from, and where this dish is famous). Here is our recipe for cochinita pibil: real tacos from southeast Mexico.
Before the recipe, I’d just like to clarify a couple of points about Mexican tacos:
- there are no hard shelled tacos (except imported ones at Walmart)
- tacos do not need cheese, olives, green onions, or sour cream
- ground beef is not normally used in tacos; when prepared as picadillo (with raisins, tomatoes, almonds, olives, hard boiled egg, etc), it is eaten with rice.
This is an extremely easy recipe, with so few ingredients you’ll think I’ve forgotten something- and yet your kids will LOVE it. Thank you Norma (my mother-in-law) for allowing us to share your recipe with our readers!
1) In either a pressure cooker or a slow cooker (both techniques produce extremely tender meat) place pork tenderloin or pork shoulder roast.
2) Mix together a generous amount of achiote paste*, plus 2T olive oil, and the juice of one lime. Rub this paste all over the pork. (*You can find this in Mexican supermarkets or on-line. Random fact: ground achiote seeds are what make cheddar cheese orange).
3) Sprinkle sliced onions on top.
4) Add an inch of orange juice.
6) Serve with avocado slices and purple onions “pickled” (marinated) in lime juice and salt. Warm up the corn tortillas one by one in a flat comal or griddle (or whatever nonstick pan you have), and wrap them in a towel until they are ready to be eaten.
Your kids will love the sweet and tangy orange juice taste, and incredibly tender meat! Do you or your kids have a special dish that brings back memories? If you are in a multicultural family, what dishes do you want your kids to grow up with? Share it with us here, on facebook or on twitter. I love to learn how to cook new foods, and my kids love to taste them!