Tikin Xic: Axiote-marinated Sea Bream

On the Yucatán peninsula, traditionally people grill whole fish directly over hot coals, but some people do use their indoor ovens too. Adriana uses responsibly sourced sea bream, but you could also try sea bass; in this region people usually use mero, huachinango or pámpano.


1 large or 2 medium sea bream or sea bass (about 800 g/1 lb. 12 oz.), butterflied and pin boned (you could ask a fishmonger to help with this)

2 banana leaves, blanched in hot water for 15 seconds to soften

Salt and ground white pepper



200 g/7 oz. axiote paste

400 ml/1¾ cups freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ onion, asado

4 garlic cloves, asados

½ tablespoon ground allspice

2 cloves, toasted

25 ml/1½ tablespoons olive oil

1 fresh bay leaf

15 g/1 tablespoon sea salt

40 ml/2½ tablespoons white wine vinegar



1 green (bell) pepper, thinly sliced

1 yellow (bell) pepper, thinly sliced

1 red (bell) pepper, thinly sliced

1 bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped

2 pinches of sea salt

120 ml/½ cup olive oil



fresh corn tortillas

avocado purée (see Note)

lime wedges

Habanero Salsa or habanero and onion pickle



First, make the marinade. Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor to a smooth paste. Rub the marinade all over the fish and season all over with salt and white pepper. Leave to marinate for about 1 hour.

To prepare the filling, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside until needed.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4.

Line a deep roasting pan with the blanched banana leaves, leaving the long edges hanging over each side to cover the fish completely once in the pan.

Lay the fish on the banana leaves. Spoon the filling on top of the fish and add any leftover marinade. Fold the long edges of the banana leaves over the top of the fish, ensuring the fish is completely covered and sealed inside the leaves. 

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30–40 minutes, depending on the size of the fi sh. To check if the fish is cooked, pull away a small piece of flesh to ensure it is cooked through.

Serve the fish wrapped in the banana leaves on a serving platter accompanied by fresh corn tortillas, avocado purée, plenty of lime wedges and either habanero salsa or habanero and onion pickle.

Note: To make an avocado purée, simply blend 2 avocados, 50 g/1¾ oz. fresh coriander/cilantro, juice of 2 limes, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 50 ml/3½ tablespoons water and 50 ml/3½ tablespoons olive oil together in a food processor or blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Pass through a fi ne-mesh sieve/strainer for an even smoother purée if liked.


This recipe is from Cocina Mexicana by Adriana Cavita. To get more great blog posts like this one - direct to your inbox – be sure to sign up to our mailing list  here.