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Sikil P'aak From 'Yucatán'

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[Photograph: Mario Canul]

For a dip so flavorful, sikil p'aak sure is ugly. A moderately chunky purée of ground pumpkin seeds, tomato purée, chilies, herbs, and onion, the hearty appetizer is a full expression of Yucatecan harvest time. I'll encourage you to ignore the appearance. According to David Sterling in his new cookbook, Yucatán, sikil p'aak is traditionally served with warm fresh tortillas, but today is most often seen at parties and in cantinas, scooped atop salty, crisp tortilla chips. He makes his dip intentionally stiff, but sikil p'aak can be served along a broad spectrum of consistencies from thick to thin. Play around with the recipe and add as much liquid as you'd like.

Why I picked this recipe: I wanted to try an easier recipe that still conjured the flavors of traditional Yucatecan cooking.

What worked: The dip really couldn't be easier—especially if you have a stash of ground pepitas.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: Sikil p'aak is traditionally made with ground, unhulled pumpkin seeds, but you can use either hulled (pepitas) or unhulled. A dip made with unhulled seeds will be a bit more rustic in texture. The best substitute for Seville orange juice is a mix of 2 parts lime juice, 1 part orange juice, and 1 part white grapefruit juice. (I did okay with a mix of orange and lime juice.)

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Yucatán to give away this week.

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