Out Of The Archives:
Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onion

This little pickle is found everywhere in The Yucatan on Tacos, Salbuches, Panuchos, on the side of Pibil, or sitting by itself on the plate next to the main course. Easy to make, although the second ingredient may be difficult to find, the recipe uses only red onion, sour oranges, boiling water, and salt.


Getting everything ready:

– Boil some water on the stove, in either a tea kettle or a soup pot.
– Slice the red onion julienne style, to make long narrow strips.
– Juice sour oranges, enough to cover the sliced onion.

Putting it all together:

– When the water has boiled (if you’ve boiled it in a tea kettle, then pour it into a large bowl), turn off the heat and add the sliced onion to the water.
– Let sit for about half a minute, 30 seconds.
– Drain the hot water off of the onions.
– Rinse the onions in cold water to stop them from softening further.
– Put them into a clean bowl.
– Cover them with the juice of the sour oranges.
– Add a little bit of salt.
– Cover and let them sit for at least an hour.

The onions in the photograph at the left were pickled for an hour and still had a little crunch. The onions will keep in the refrigerator for about a month, and continue to pickle as they sit, softening and turning red as the sour orange juice does its magic.

You might think that an orange is an orange, but that’s not so, at least in this case anyway. The oranges that we eat as fruit and make orange juice from are a sweeter, prettier variety. Sour oranges look a little different, almost prehistoric or heirloom, with their orange and green mottled skin and their very large seeds that are clumped inside in no regular pattern.

Finding sour oranges in the States is not that easy. If you have a local Mexican food market, I’d start by asking for them there. Here in the Bay Area, I found them at the Berkeley Bowl and they were grown in southern California, so they’ve got to have some availability!

Out Of The Archives:
Simple Black Beans

A simple batch of Black Beans.

When I go out on the web looking for new recipes or a recipe to remind me of the ingredients I need to have on my shopping list, I’ve noticed that if the recipe calls for Black Beans, the ingredient is usually listed as 1 14-ounce can of Black Beans.

I’m always dismayed by this. While cans of beans are convenient, and they do retain their nutritional value for the most part, they cant compare to the flavor and texture of a pot of home cooked beans!

While most authentic Mexican food in the US offer only Pinto Beans or Refried Pinto Beans in their restaurants, Black Beans are a familiar dish in Southern Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. They are rich in flavor, pretty to look at, and full of folate, thiamin, and iron.

Frijol Colado / Tsaaj Bi Bu’Ul

While the image at the left shows cooked black beans, which are great as a side dish, Frijol Colado means strained beans. Tsaaj Bi Bu’Ul is the Mayan name for this dish. Tsaaj is anything that is cooked with oil or lard. Bu’Ul is the word for bean. While a pot of beans in the Yucatan is usually made with a large chunk of lard, Im going to bypass that bit altogether. The only oil I use in this dish is the oil I saute the onions and peppers in.
You will need a soup pot for this recipe, and while you dont have to stand over the stove to make these, youll need about three hours of time to make these before a meal.

Buying The Beans

You can find dried Black Beans in any grocery that sells dried beans, and in a grocery that has beans in the bulk bins. Buying them from the bulk bins is less expensive because you can buy a small amount at a time.

How Many Beans Should I Use?

The amount of beans that you will use will depend on two things, the size of your cooking pot and the number of people you have to feed.

As a general rule, I fill the bottom quarter of the pot with dried beans. I use that rule whether I am using a saucepan or a big soup pot.

Soaking The Beans

There are two ways to do this.

In either case, first wash the beans by rinsing them under running water and draining them.

The first way to soak the beans is to put the dried beans into the bottom quarter of the soup pot, then fill the pot about half way full of water and let the beans soak overnight.

The second way is to put the dried beans into the bottom quarter of the soup pot, then fill the pot about half way full of water and simmer for about ten minutes. Turn off the heat and let the beans stand for about an hour.

In both cases, once the beans have finished soaking, drain the beans in a colander and discard the water. The water will be a deep blue, but dont worry, there is still a lot of color left in those beans.

The Recipe

For those of you who need measurements you can base your proportions from this:

2-pounds of Black Beans
8-quarts of Water
1-ounce of Epazote found in the dried herb section of the grocery.
1 White onion
Xcatik Pepper you can substitute Banana Wax or Anaheim peppers.
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

– Once the beans are soaked and drained, chop the onion, peppers, and garlic, all very finely.
– In the now empty soup pot (because the beans are sitting in a colander in the sink) dribble some Olive Oil and saute the onions and peppers until the onions are almost clear.
– Add the garlic and stir.
– Add the drained beans back into the pot.
– Add the epazote.
– Stir.
– Fill the pot halfway with water, filtered water if you have it.
– Once the beans start simmering, stir them and turn down the heat.
– Add salt when the beans begin to get soft.
– Cook until the beans just start to break apart.

At this point, if you just want a simple side of whole black beans, drain the beans either with a slotted spoon, or in a colander. Serve!

Strained Beans

If you’d like to make strained beans, put the drained beans in a bowl and roughly mash them. Or you can use a food processor.

Refried Beans

Leave the beans in the pot with the liquid, dont drain them or add any more water. Over a low flame, constantly stir the beans until they start to break down.