Mexico’s ultra-luxury Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort -- on the Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo between Cancun and Tikum -- is set on 206 acres of pristine jungle and mangroves with a vast white sand beach. The sprawling Leading Hotel of the World resort includes an adults-only oceanfront rooms, family-friendly ocean views, and a Zen-like tropical setting, surrounded by the flora and fauna of the Yucatan Peninsula’s jungle. When I was there a family of coatis scampered in the trees in front of the spa, and a spider monkey lounged poolside as if he was a privileged guest.
The tropical property is proud to be known for its award-winning all-inclusive dining program. Grand Velas’s eight restaurants include five gourmet choices serving Mexican, European, and Asian cuisine. Cocina de Autor – helmed by celebrity chefs Bruno Oteiza, Mikel Alonso, and Xavier Pérez Stone -- holds the AAA Five Diamond Award, making it the first all-inclusive restaurant in the world honored with this distinction.
The resort is also particularly proud of its Mayan restaurant, Chaka, which serves such indigenous dishes as Tikin Xic (pronounced “teekeen sheek”), a fish recipe infused with the flavors and techniques of traditional Yucatecan cuisine. With Mexican ingredients like axiote seasoning and red peppers, the savory recipe features grouper as the source of protein.
The Tikin Xic dish is available at Chaka which is also the location of its Yucatecan Cooking Class taught by the resort’s Mayan Chef, Humberto May Tamay, who now shares his recipe with The Daily Meal readers.
1. Blend the axiote, 1 tsp of garlic, ½ cup of orange juice, and lemon juice in a food processor. Marinate fish in mixture for 30 min.
2. Sauté the peppers with the chopped onion and remaining garlic; keep warm.
3. In a sauce pan, reduce the remaining orange juice over low heat until it’s a tenth the original amount. Add twice the amount of cream and reduce a few minutes until thick. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside.
4. Peel the plantains, slice, and bake at 375 F for 25 minutes. Then, blend with the remaining cream. Strain and reduce the mixture until it has a puree consistency. Finish with 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside.
5. Add 4 tablespoons of butter and oil to a pan. Cook the fish for a few minutes on each side until the fish starts to turn golden brown.
6. To serve, plate the plantain puree, followed by the fish, and then garnish with the vegetables on top.