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Tikin Xic (Yucatan Grilled Fish in Banana Leaves)

  • Author: Rico "Uncle Chico" Gubernick


  • 6 boneless red snapper fillets (grouper, rock fish, branzino), about 6 oz. each
  • 2 guajillo chiles, seeds and stems removed.
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed juice from bitter orange or ½ cup each orange juice and lime juice
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 5 oz. achiote paste
  • ¼ cup white onion, rough chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 whole cloves, stems removed
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 large banana leaves thawed
  • Flour or corn tortillas


  1. Place individual fillets in glass or non-stain dish. Season with Spanglish Asadero Bold Citrus (optional) or salt and pepper.
  2. On comal or frying pan, toast the guajillos on each side to release oils, making sure not to burn chiles. Cover with water and simmer over medium heat to soften and rehydrate chiles about 15 minutes.
  3. In blender add rehydrated chiles, 2 tbsp. of liquid from rehydrated chiles, orange and lime juice, vinegar, onion, achiote paste and spices. Blend until smooth.
  4. Cover the fish with marinade, making sure both surfaces of fish are completely covered. Cover with plastic and let marinade in refrigerator for one to 12 hours.
  5. Cut banana leaves into 12-inch squares and lay filet on the middle of the dull surface of the leaf. Fold up the bottom of the leaf, covering the fish. Then fold in both sides. Make one more fold on top to form your package.
  6. I like to secure the packets with butchers twine, but you can also tie them like tamales with banana leaf strips that have been cut with the grain into ½-inch strips.
  7. Preheat your grill to medium heat using a two-zone method (one side with no coals and other with coals, or if using gas, one side with burners off and other side with burners on).
  8. Cook the banana-wrapped fish directly over the heat until the leaves are charred on both sides (about 3 to 4 minutes each side). Transfer the fish to the indirect side and finish cooking until fish reaches 140 degrees internal temperature.
  9. Serve each packet individually or on a platter with a stack of warm tortillas so that each person can build their own tacos.


PRO TIP: I like to build my taco with fish, pickled onions, cilantro, and El Yucateco habanero salsa. A tropical mango or pineapple salsa would also make a wonderful accompaniment!

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