The Heart of Ardent

Heart of Ardent: Mayan Salsa: Xnipek

Some of you have seen our feature film “The Devil’s Tail“, shot primarily in Yucatan, Mexico.

Although Spanish is spoken throughout Mexico, including the Yucatan, it’s a region original to the Maya, and you will hear the Mayan language spoken there.

Earlier in the Heart of Ardent posts, I shared a recipe for Salsa Verde, “green sauce”. Some Mexican salsas are cooked and some are raw and fresh, like Pico de Gallo. It translates to “Rooster’s Beak”, the idea being that the sharpness of the pepper flavor is like a peck on the tongue.

In Yucatán, you’ll find many Yucatecan dishes from the Maya, including their version of a fresh salsa. Interestingly enough, I had a traditional Yucatecan meal 2 weeks ago, and the couple I ate with and myself were discussing this very thing. Well – ‘discussing’ is a generous term in this case. My Spanish is limited, as is their English, but we had a good time and made ourselves understood. Food is a language.

His mother was Maya, so he grew up with many of the dishes on the table. We talked about the fact that the Yucatecan version of Pico de Gallo is called X’nipek. It translates to “Dog’s Snout”, the idea being that it makes your nose wet, like a dog’s, running from the picante flavor of the pepper!

X’nipek is on many tables throughout the region; it’s eaten with almost everything, from egg dishes to meat and filled tortillas.



7 ounces White Onion
1/2 LB Tomatoes
1 bunch Fresh Coriander
*Habañero Pepper to taste
2 Sour/Bitter Oranges
Sea Salt to taste


Finely chop all the vegetable ingredients. Add the orange juice and salt.
Let the mixture marinate at room temperature for about an hour before serving.

NOTE: Sour Orange is a common fruit juice used in Yucatecan cuisine. In this case, you can see that it replaces the lime of the Mexican version.
Sour or Saville Oranges can be found at farmer’s markets or large grocery stores. If they’re not available to you fresh, in season, bottled juice, like Goya naranja agria is typically available at Latin markets.
Also, if you dislike the idea of going bottled and not fresh, equal parts orange, grapefruit and lemon juices mixed together produce a reasonable approximation of Bitter or Sour Orange.

*Consider using gloves when chopping and handling peppers.

X’nipek is also spelled Xnipek and X’nipec.

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