This classic Yucatán dish is all about the extremely tender pork. It is served dish alongside refried beans, the ever-common pickled red onions, rice, spicy habanera-tomato salsa, and tortillas for convenience of eating.
The cooking process
Like some other dishes popular here, cochinita pibil is a time-intensive dish. Cochinita means “baby pig”, so it can be an entire suckling pig, but is usually only pork shoulder or loin. First, cooks layer a pan with banana or plantain leaves, and place the pork inside. They then pour a marinade of bitter oranges, garlic, some spices, and achiote (also known as annatto) completely over the meat before covering it completely with the leaves. It marinates for up to eight hours. The achiote gives the pork a characteristic reddish orange hue, and a bitter and unique flavour. It cooks for several hours at a low heat. The acidity of the oranges, the banana-leaf covering, and the slow cooking of the meat helps break it down, for an incredibly tender result.
History of Cochinita Pibil
We don’t know exactly when or how cochinita pibil was created. However, the roasting of meat in pits over charcoal or hot stones is a long-standing tradition of the original Maya peoples. Pibil is originally Maya for “roasting” or “to roast”, combining the Mayan style of slow roasting in banana leaves underground with the Spanish introduction of pork.
Where can I find it?
Cochinita pibil, sometimes called puerco pibil or cochinita con achiote, is an incredibly popular dish in the Yucatán. You can find it all over Tulum, but we specifically recommend Taqueria Don Honorio on Avenida Satelite.