Yucatan Seitan

Yucatan Seitan

Everywhere we went in Belize, people were eating a red-colored chicken dish. One of our guides told me that red color comes from a spice mixture called recado, which contains red annatto seeds. The powder (or paste) is sometimes called achiote, which is the name of the tree that produces the annatto. Annatto is tangy and is mixed with oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, pepper, allspice and garlic to spice chicken in Belize and other parts of the Yucatan.

Recado PowderSince I couldn’t try it while I was there, I picked up a jar of recado powder at a grocery store so I could try it on some seitan when I got home. A lot of recipes call for recado rojo, or paste, instead of powder. I’m not sure if there is any substantial difference in taste between the two. The powder seemed like it’d be easier for me to transport, so I went with that. It has a beautiful red color, and I’m excited in experimenting with it more.

Obviously I have no way of comparing this to the original dish to see if it’s close, but I can tell you it’s pretty tasty, if not authentic. I’m sure traditional recipes don’t ask for tamari, but I prefer it’s flavor to salt in many dishes, so I’ve included it here. The first time I made it I found the lime juice to be overwhelming, so this recipe calls for a reduced amount. It’s delicious served with some salty black beans, lettuce, shredded carrots, and wrapped up in a tortilla.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Yucatan Seitan
Serves four

1 8oz Package of Seitan
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
2 Tbs Lime Juice
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Cloves Garlic
1 1/2 tsp Recado Powder
1/4 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Allspice
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 Clove, crushed
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbs Tamari

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Marinating SeitanSlice the seitan into wide but thin strips. Place all other ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Place seitan into a small baking dish, so it is roughly in one layer, overlappng some. Pour over marinade and cover tightly with two layers of aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes, but give it a shake at 15. Don’t peek! You don’t want to let the moisture escape. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes if it’s too liquidy. Serve immediately.

Yucatan Seitan Fajita


  1. Antoinette

    this looks festive…i am searching for a good recipe to make tonight to celebrate…oh and i love your blog…question: how do you get one of these website bloggy things? ive been wanting one, and i like how yours is set up, but i dont know how to do it. email me back if you can!!!

  2. Mihl

    What a coincidence, today I picked up some achiote in a Mexican grocery store. The woman there told me the packet would be enough for 1.4 kg of meat…while I was thinking how nice my tofu would look. Anyway, I am convinced you can read minds.Thank you so much for the recipe!

  3. Carla

    This looks great!! I’m too late for today but this is something to keep in mind for the next time I make Seitan! How very creative of you!

  4. Pamela

    Lolo, looks great, like everything you make. Gosh, we can’t even tell it’s vegan!
    I want to link your foodblog to my foodblog. Hit me up!

  5. johanna3

    we called here in Puerto Rico to that powder achiote. here recado is a green herb(very tasty).

    the powder here is pure achiote without any herb. this looks so good.

  6. Lolo

    Thanks for the kind comments!

    Mihi – What a coincidence! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

    Pamela – I’ve linked to you for ages, dear! Glad to see your updates!

    Alex – These beans were a mix of whole and refried, with cumin, salt, pepper, and tomatoes.

    Johanna – Interesting! I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for the herb!

  7. Deidre

    These turned out so fantastic just now, I’m raving about the recipe to all my friends, veggie and omnivorous alike. I threw a handful of chopped onions in with the seitan and let them bake together – they absorbed lots of flavor and softened up nicely.

  8. Lyra

    How funny, I was flipping through your recipes and ran across this one! I am from Belize, and I don’t know which chicken recipe specifically you were talking about, because we use recado in a lot of dishes, but I am guessing it was the ubiquitious Stewed Chicken. Everyone has their own version of this recipe, but none of the ones that I know about have citrus juices or tamari (tamari? Whats that?) in them. On the other hand, some people do use worchesterchire sauce, which I know isnt vegetarian or vegan, so tamari sauce might make a decent vegan substitute.

    I’ve added you to my blog roll and will have to try this recipe with some of my recado from Belize. As I am not vegetarian, I will be happy to let you know if it tastes like Belizean stew chicken.

    Did you know that there is also a pitch black recado mix as well? Traditionally the black color comes from blackened and ground corn tortillas, and the achiote (we call it annato) is blended with that and some very spicy other additions. It is the spiciest recado around.

    Your blog is beautiful, and your photos are too. You are right about not putting bad pics up, I am guilty of that because I dont have good night lighting and work during the day, so I sometimes take bad pics and then I post them anyways. I may have to start taking those down though…

  9. Cecelia

    This was so good! I used a teaspoon of paprika and turmeric in place of the recado powder but still, the best sauce I have ever had! I put this with some fresh salsa and spinach and rolled it up in one of the best burritos I have ever had. Thanks so much for this recipe!

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