Basic Preparations/

Pickled Red Onions

Cebollas Moradas Curtidas
These are the pink sparkle that decorates dishes and tables throughout the Yucatan. So common, in fact, that many Yucatecan cooks forget to list them as part of a traditional dish, knowing that they’ll always be around. It’s a simple process, but some recipe writers complicate things with the use of boiling water or the addition of beets or jamaica flowers to reinforce the red. The method I’m offering here is the time-tested one we’ve used for decades in our restaurants. They are obligatory on any of the pibil preparations or fish tikin xik, but I also love them on the enchilada-like papadzules, Yucatecan ceviches and any tacos with Yucatan flavors.
Servings: 2cups


  • 2medium (6-ounces each) red onions, sliced about ¼-inch thick
  • Abouta cup of fresh lime juice
  • Salt


Scoop the onions into a glass or stainless bowl.  Cover with very hot tap water.  (The water should be steaming; if yours isn’t heat it a little on the stove.)  Let stand 20 minutes, then drain. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.  Cover with the lime juice and lay a plate on top to keep them submerged.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate 3 or 4 hours (or, preferably, overnight).  Scoop the onions into a storage container, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to a month or more.  After a few weeks, the texture of the onions will begin to deteriorate.  

Variations on the theme: As with the recipe here some habanero can be pickled with these onions, though it’s not that common in the Yucatan with an habanero salsa would be served alongside.  A little Mexican or Yucatecan oregano could be added, and I sometimes like a little black pepper—but that’s just me. 


  1. Do you want the texture to change or should they be used before it changes? Can’t wait to try these. Going to make the mole and I am excited!

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