Mexican Recipes

Pork Pot Stickers with Achiote Sauce and Pineapple Salsa

How do you spell A-C-H-I-O-T-E please?

I grew up in Chula Vista, California near the Mexican border so Mexican food was a regular part of my life. I frequently downed tacos, enchiladas, refried beans and fried rice and sometimes snuck in a chimichanga or two. I even considered myself somewhat of an expert on Mexican food until I was invited to a preview tasting for the annual Taste of Downtown event held in San Diego on October 2, 2014.

With over 30 restaurants taking part in this event, several other food bloggers and I were given preliminary tastings at 8 of these venues, including several Mexican bar and grill restaurants. I was expecting the waiters to bring out the usual tacos and enchiladas, but instead was presented with dishes like Pot Stickers with Achiote Sauce and Grilled Pineapple Salsa and Hicama Sticks with Sriracha-Lime Aioli.

“Whatever happened to the simple old Mexican dishes?” I asked myself. Leaning over towards a fellow blogger I whispered, “How do you spell ‘achiote’? What is sriacha sauce? HICAMA WHO?”  The other bloggers were scribbling away like old hands as they took notes and were eying me with suspicion. “Where has she been all these years?” they were probably asking themselves.

Anyway, I had to fast-foward 10 years really quickly and get up-to-scratch on what’s been happening to Mexican food, at least in SoCal and some other parts of the US. Traditional Mexican food has now morphed into something called Baja Med, a blend of Mexican food with Asian and Merditerranean influences, often blending the magnificent seafood of Baja California with olive oils, fruits and vegetables found in the San Quintin Valley and Guadalupe Valley of Baja.

I’d love to do a full blog post one day on Baja Med cuisine, but for now I’d like to present the recipe for Pork Pot Stickers with Achiote Sauce and Grilled Pineapple Salsa. This was one of the tasting dishes from the San Diego restaurant Comun Grill and Tavern so here is my version of the dish.

A pork shoulder roast is first cooked for several hours on the stovetop until the meat falls apart and is then blended with some achiote paste. The mixture is then placed inside a wonton wrapper (called a ‘pot sticker’) and baked in the oven and finally served with a spicy grilled pineapple salsa. This dish makes a great appetiser.

Achiote paste is made from ground annatto seeds and is mixed with cumin and other spices. It is used as flavouring in Mexico, the Carribbeans and in the Philippines and gives a nice smoky taste and vibrant red coloring to food. You can purchase achiote paste in Mexican food specialty stores or online at or

 Olé! Who said that Mexican food was still stuck in the past?

 Pot Stickers 2 of 2) (1 of 1)      Pork Pot Stickers with Achiote Sauce and Grilled Pineapple Salsa  


    Pork Pot Stickers

  • 1 pork shoulder roast
  • water to cover the roast in a pot or Dutch Oven
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, whole
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 3 cups of the pork cooking liquid
  • 3 tbsp. achiote paste
  • 2 -3 tsp Mexican chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • wonton wrappers

  Grilled Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 fresh pineapple, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (coriander)
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 red chili, seeded and finely diced
  • salt to taste


  • Place the pork, garlic, salt, peppercorns and onion in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and simmer until the meat is tender and falls off the bone (about 2 hours).
  • When the meat is cooked, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Strain the remaining cooking broth through a sieve; there should be at least three cups of broth remaining (if not, top-up with more water).
  • After the meat cools, shred using several forks. Add the reserved pork cooking broth to the shredded pork; start by adding 2 cups of the broth and then gradually add the remaining broth until the meat becomes moist but not runny.
  • Add the achiote paste and Mexican chili powder to the meat; add more seasoning if required. Add salt to taste.
  • Place a small ball of the pork mixture on top of each wanton wrapper (about 1 tsp) then brush the outter edge of the wrapper with water. Fold the edges of each wrapper together and then pinch the sides together.


  •  Brush the pot stickers with olive oil and bake for 6 – 7 minutes at 350 F. on a parchment-lined tray until the outsides turn golden brown. Turn each one several times while baking for even coloration.

For the Grilled Pineapple Salsa

  • Peel and core a fresh pineapple and dice into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine with the chopped onions, cilantro, lime juice, diced chili and salt.
  • Serve the salsa on top of a banana leaf (optional) and arrange the pot stickers around the side of he dish.




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  • Joanne T Ferguson
    October 8, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    G’day These pot stickers look delish Fran and with I could try them now!
    Love anything hot and spicy! Love anchiote too!
    Cheers! Joanne
    Joanne T Ferguson recently posted…Are You Curious Why All It Takes Is Salisbury Steak?My Profile

  • Gourmet Getaways
    October 8, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Lol, Fran that was a funny story! You’re alright 🙂 And yes, achiote is used in the Philippines. In fact I used it in my slow cooked oxtail kare-kare. Your dumpling is so plump. I got hungry!!!

    ~Do drop by and say hello 🙂
    Gourmet Getaways
    Gourmet Getaways recently posted…Hunter Valley Wine TourMy Profile

  • [email protected] Riffs
    October 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I used to live in Florida, and sauces made with achiote are huge in Cuban cooking there. This looks wonderful — love all the different flavor combos going on here. Haven’t heard of Baja Med, though — obviously I don’t get out enough!
    [email protected]n Riffs recently posted…The Delmonico CocktailMy Profile

  • Lynn @ Oh-So Yummy
    October 9, 2014 at 4:41 am

    Sooo yummy looking! I was waiting for this recipe since you mentioned making your own version! And actually, achiote is new to me because I only first heard of it at the Latin Food Festival a few weeks ago! That event and Taste of Downtown were super tasty!
    Lynn @ Oh-So Yummy recently posted…Latin Food Fest 2014 – recap part 2My Profile

  • Kitchen Belleicious
    October 9, 2014 at 4:50 am

    that sauce and salsa look amazing! I love how you paired it with pot stickers and not just pork by itself. Lovely and so delicious. So glad you stopped by today! I love finding new cooking blogs full of flavor!

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
    October 9, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Baja med? Who knew? I have heard of jicama though and like it a lot.

    Your pot stickers look wonderful and make a very classy appetizer.
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef recently posted…Meatball Sandwiches – an old family favouriteMy Profile

  • Kumar's Kitchen
    October 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    pork dumplings with a fresh,crunchy pineapple salsa is one perfect combination….and that lovely golden color of the stuffing makes this dish just in time for welcoming autumn….scrumptious and moreish dumplings,thanks 🙂
    Kumar’s Kitchen recently posted…Palak Paneer…Simple & DeliciousMy Profile

  • Adrian (Food Rehab)
    October 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Yes! I use annatto seeds to make Kare Kare (ox tail stew) to get that perfect orangey brown colour and it gives that nutty flavour.

    I can just taste the smokiness from the meat paired with that beautiful tangy salsa. YERM!
    Adrian (Food Rehab) recently posted…The Outdoor MEAT-ATHON: Texas style smoked ribs to Yarraville’s Food TrucksMy Profile

  • Daniela
    October 10, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Very interesting to hear about the development of Mexican cuisine.
    This dish combines great flavors and looks very pretty too.
    People here in Peru use Achiote quite frequently, it adds a lovey taste and color.
    Daniela recently posted…Gingered Carrot Orange SoupMy Profile

  • Juliana
    October 17, 2014 at 5:56 am

    These pot stickers sounded so strange in the beginning…I always think of pot stickers as an Asian dish, so when I read about Mexican twist I thought…”why not?” I love the idea of serving these with the pineapple salsa…delicious!
    Thanks for the inspiration Fran…hope you are having a fabulous week 😀