Annatto or Achiote Seeds

When making seasoning blends called Sazon and Adobo most recipes call for annatto or achiote seeds. The neighbors down the street have an achiote tree and it is full of pods filled with these tiny seeds.  The seeds can be bitter and you may want to either steeped in water or sautéed in oil to get the color you want and then discard the seeds. In our local markets you can get oil infused with these seeds. Or dry the entire seed and grind it into powder to add to your seasoning blends like I do.

San Clemente 5.29.2014 007 San Clemente 5.29.2014 009 San Clemente 5.29.2014 010San Clemente 6.1.2014 005I have dried a few pods and removed the seeds for my spice blends. I have read where this is called the poor man’s saffron, it sure has a vibrant color.

Here are recipes I use this dried seed in:

Sazon Dry Mix

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon annatto or achiote seeds
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Toast coriander, cumin and achiote seeds in a dry pan, cool. Grind into a fine power then blend all spices together. Store in a cool dry place in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

1 1/2 teaspoon of this mix is the same as using a packet of commercial sazon seasoning mix.

Mexican Dry Adobo Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 3 japones chili peppers
  • 3 Arbol chili peppers (You can find these dried chilies in some markets in Ecuador)
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika or annatto or achiote seeds

Heat dry skillet add cumin, coriander, fennel, mustard, achiote and both chilies. Toast 3 minutes DO NOT BURN. Cool, put in coffee grinder with all other ingredients and grind to a fine powder.

Use 1 1/2 tablespoons for baked chicken. I use 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Sazon seasoning along with this adobo seasoning. Season chicken and allow to marinate for several hours to overnight. Add 3/4 cup of water, white wine or chicken stock along with any veggies you like to the bottom of the baking pan. Place the chicken on top. Bake covered with aluminum foil, at 350 f, 1 hour, remove from oven, coat chicken with guava marmalade and return to oven uncovered for 15 minutes more. I always add a little more seasoning as well as hot pepper flakes for that final kick of heat.

8 thoughts on “Annatto or Achiote Seeds

  1. I’ll definitely be using your recipes when hubby and I make our move 🙂 When are you coming out with a cookbook?

    • On the subject of a cookbook, I doubt that I will attempt that. As of right now posting my recipes with some photos makes me happy. Having a job building a cookbook would be just that a job and I would not make that commitment right now. Thanks for following and I hope you can start making some of these recipes soon, Nancy

  2. Thanks so much for the pictures! I will keep my eyes open for achiote seeds, especially next time we head to the coast. I would love to infuse my own oil.

  3. I recognize that plant! I call it the lipstick pod because the little girls in my neighborhood smear it on their lips and then ask me to tell them how beautiful they are! Nancy, I wish I could have spent one day in your kitchen with you! I know I’d return to Nica with lots of new recipes and ideas.

    • Hey Deb, I just love descovering what is available here and how the locals use it. If you saw my spice cupboard you would go crazy. Sorry we did not have time to do a little Nancy Cooking, N

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