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Substitutes for Achiote Seeds


robyn
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I have a recipe for a pork tenderloin marinade which calls for (among many other things) achiote seeds. I'm sure if I spent half a day driving around and hitting specialty hispanic grocery stores - I'd find some. But I don't have the time right now. One web site recommended the following possible substitutes: turmeric, paprika or saffron. I don't want to put $5 worth of saffron in a marinade. I have turmeric and paprika and lots of other stuff in the spice drawer - but don't know which to use - because I don't know what achiote seeds taste like. What would you use (any of those things mentioned - or something else)? Robyn

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I have a recipe for a pork tenderloin marinade which calls for (among many other things) achiote seeds.  I'm sure if I spent half a day driving around and hitting specialty hispanic grocery stores - I'd find some.  But I don't have the time right now.  One web site recommended the following possible substitutes:  turmeric, paprika or saffron.  I don't want to put $5 worth of saffron in a marinade.  I have turmeric and paprika and lots of other stuff in the spice drawer - but don't know which to use - because I don't know what achiote seeds taste like.  What would you use (any of those things mentioned - or something else)?  Robyn

No, don't put in saffron, it tastes really different from achiote. I would just skip it alltogether, because paprika and tumeric don't taste like achiote either, but if I had to pick one, I'd pick paprika because it isn't astringent the way tumeric is.

regards,

trillium

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No, don't put in saffron, it tastes really different from achiote.  I would just skip it alltogether, because paprika and tumeric don't taste like achiote either, but if I had to pick one, I'd pick paprika because it isn't astringent the way tumeric is.

regards,

trillium

What does the stuff taste like? The other ingredients in the marinade are cumin - olive oil - garlic - shallots - blood orange juice - lemon juice - wine vinegar - sugar and pepper - so I doubt one teaspoon of anything will make a huge difference.

This is a Mark Militello recipe I got from the NYT a while back (pork tenderloin with black beans and sweet plantain mash) - in the summer. Only then did I learn that blood oranges are a seasonal item in the winter. I'm looking forward to making it - although I suspect the marinade - when finished - will wind up flavoring the pork just like a bottle of store bought mojo :smile: . Robyn

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Achiote (annato) is very distinctive.

I just walked over to a jar of seeds and popped one in my mouth.

Here are the notes I'm getting (from strongest to weakest):

Red Bean (not the Asian kind)

Green bean (strong vegetative quality)

Brick/Clay (as if you took the smell of brick and made it a taste)

Tea (astringent)

Slight floral note (almost an earl grey kind of thing)

barest hint of Cinnamon

That's raw, mind you. Cooked, I don't have that strong a memory of. I think the cinnamon note is enhanced, but that's as much as I can recall.

I was thinking that paprika might possibly work, but after tasting it, I'd say definitely not. I think paprika became a candidate due to the psychology of the colors being so similar. The taste is very different, though.

And then of course, you have a slightly gritty textural aspect that will be hard to match.

Edited by scott123 (log)
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I love achiote and there isn't anything else that tastes quite like it.

Achiote is made by grinding annato seeds with garlic and spices to create a thick paste. Cochinita Pibil is a classic Mexican pork dish made with achiote. Militello's recipe shares key ingredients with this recipe(plantain, orange, 1tsp achiote)... to the point where he's pretty much just stolen the recipe.

I wouldn't make this without achiote unless you are looking to try a recipe completely different than that which was intended.

Edited by fiftydollars (log)
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No, don't put in saffron, it tastes really different from achiote.  I would just skip it alltogether, because paprika and tumeric don't taste like achiote either, but if I had to pick one, I'd pick paprika because it isn't astringent the way tumeric is.

regards,

trillium

What does the stuff taste like? The other ingredients in the marinade are cumin - olive oil - garlic - shallots - blood orange juice - lemon juice - wine vinegar - sugar and pepper - so I doubt one teaspoon of anything will make a huge difference.

This is a Mark Militello recipe I got from the NYT a while back (pork tenderloin with black beans and sweet plantain mash) - in the summer. Only then did I learn that blood oranges are a seasonal item in the winter. I'm looking forward to making it - although I suspect the marinade - when finished - will wind up flavoring the pork just like a bottle of store bought mojo :smile: . Robyn

Depending on what brand of mojo you buy, your almost correct.

The main or second to main ingredient listed on many store bought mojo varietals is salt, which essentially turns it into a brine rather than a marinade.

woodburner

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I love achiote and there isn't anything else that tastes quite like it.

Achiote is made by grinding annato seeds with garlic and spices to create a thick paste. Cochinita Pibil is a classic Mexican pork dish made with achiote. Militello's recipe shares key ingredients with this recipe(plantain, orange, 1tsp achiote)... to the point where he's pretty much just stolen the recipe.

I wouldn't make this without achiote unless you are looking to try a recipe completely different than that which was intended.

This is the Militello recipe - and the history behind the recipe (he says it's a derivative recipe - like most Floribbean recipes - derived from pork pibil). Although it's somewhat like the recipe you gave - there are differences - and I'm sure one could find a hundred recipes for pork that are even closer. So I think it's wrong to say he's "stolen" the recipe. It's simply his "take" on a classic dish. And he gives credit where credit is due.

For what it's worth - I think I first ate at one of his restaurants maybe 20 years ago or so (the one in the strip shopping center in North Miami) - and he was cooking these kinds of things way back when. I'm sure he wasn't the first person to marinate pork in citrus (mojo came before Mark - not the other way around) - but he was certainly one of the first - if not the first - to prepare food like this in a high class fusion restaurant (where you'd get a pork tenderloin - as opposed to lesser cuts).

My husband and I have to put on a lot of miles the next couple of days dealing with family medical problems - and if I can locate an hispanic grocery store along the way - I'll have to try to find some achiote. Robyn

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Yep. If I can go into County Market and have no problem with finding it, you're in prime country. Go for it, and don't attempt a sub. It's a unique ingredient, and if you want to go to all that trouble replicating a dish, replicate all the way.

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You live in Florida. They must sell achiote everywhere.

I'm in north Florida. BBQ everywhere - yes. Achiote - no. I called a few of the hispanic grocery stores in town. They don't speak English (luckily I speak passable Spanish) - and they don't sell achiote. Also called the biggest herb/spice store in town. They used to stock the paste - but don't these days. About the closest thing I found was a Goya spice mixture packet in Publix which contained achiote - but it was about the 8th ingredient on the list of ingredients - and I think that 90% of the packet was salt. Couldn't even find the stuff on the Spice Hunter web site (I usually order a bunch of stuff from them about once a year). So I think I'll pass this time around. Robyn

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I find it surprising that this is not available locally.

The language barrier could be an issue.

'Annatto seed' is what you are looking for.

'Achiote' is generally the term used for a marinade or paste prepared from annatto seed.

Did you refer to it in both terms?

Could be that whomever you spoke to just did not wish to expel the effort necessary to cross the language gap.

I'd hit the first halfway-decent-size Hispanic grocery you see and check out their spice section.

If you've not seen it before, annatto looks (and yes, does taste a bit) like little chunks of dried clay or brick.

edit: and, oh yeah, I would not recommend any of the subs, annatto is a bit more subtle than all of the items mentioned...BUT, if I had to pick one it would be a VERY mild (not smoked, preferably very old and devoid of flavor) paprika.

Edited by sladeums (log)

...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

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Golly, even McCormick is now marketing "Ground Annatto -- Achiote Molido."  But I'm not sure whether they're putting it in all their displays. Let me know if you'd like the unopened bottle I have.

I'm heading down to south Florida in a couple of weeks - and if I can't find it there - I'll take you up on your kind offer.

I'm not sure that the ingredient would make much of a difference in this dish. The bulk of the flavoring comes from the citrus in the marinade. But I'd like to try the recipe again as written and see what happens. Just hope that we manage to have blood oranges in the stores for more than a couple of weeks (I don't see them here that often).

I'll note that of the several recipes in the link I gave in an earlier message - the real winner was the recipe for the plantains. It was a plaintain puree - and a really elegant side dish with the pork. Robyn

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The language barrier could be an issue.

'Annatto seed' is what you are looking for.

'Achiote' is generally the term used for a marinade or paste prepared from annatto seed.

Did you refer to it in both terms?...

I did. Although it might have been easier had I been in a store rather than trying to shop on the phone the day before Christmas (when everyone is really busy). Like I said - I'm heading to south Florida next month - and I'll see if I can't score some. Robyn

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You live in Florida. They must sell achiote everywhere.

I'm in north Florida. BBQ everywhere - yes. Achiote - no. I called a few of the hispanic grocery stores in town. They don't speak English (luckily I speak passable Spanish) - and they don't sell achiote. Also called the biggest herb/spice store in town. They used to stock the paste - but don't these days. About the closest thing I found was a Goya spice mixture packet in Publix which contained achiote - but it was about the 8th ingredient on the list of ingredients - and I think that 90% of the packet was salt. Couldn't even find the stuff on the Spice Hunter web site (I usually order a bunch of stuff from them about once a year). So I think I'll pass this time around. Robyn

Was the Goya mix called Bijol? As I recall, the annatto count was higher in Bijol than 8th in ingredient list.. It's been a while since I lived in Florida so it's all a bit foggy.

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You live in Florida. They must sell achiote everywhere.

I'm in north Florida. BBQ everywhere - yes. Achiote - no. I called a few of the hispanic grocery stores in town. They don't speak English (luckily I speak passable Spanish) - and they don't sell achiote. Also called the biggest herb/spice store in town. They used to stock the paste - but don't these days. About the closest thing I found was a Goya spice mixture packet in Publix which contained achiote - but it was about the 8th ingredient on the list of ingredients - and I think that 90% of the packet was salt. Couldn't even find the stuff on the Spice Hunter web site (I usually order a bunch of stuff from them about once a year). So I think I'll pass this time around. Robyn

Was the Goya mix called Bijol? As I recall, the annatto count was higher in Bijol than 8th in ingredient list.. It's been a while since I lived in Florida so it's all a bit foggy.

It's in the line of Goya products called Sazon Goya. One type of this particular seasoning comes "con achiote" - the other "sin achiote" - and the "achiote" is listed as a coloring ingredient. So what you're thinking of must be an older product (or one that's not available here). Robyn

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If anyone needs achiote paste, just pm me and I'll send you some. We've got it out the wazoo....

Now there's a mental picture.

:laugh::raz:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Definitely puts an unforseen spin on the brick allusions...

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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