Robert Rodriguez’s Puerco Pibil

June 20, 2008 by

Dave, Banana leaves and Robert Rodriguez's Puerco PibilWhile I didn’t think too much of the movie “Once Upon a Time in Mexico“, I have the utmost respect for Robert Rodriguez’s 10 minute cooking school in the DVD extras for the movie. This dish is the one Johnny Depp’s assassin character (Agent Sands) is always eating in the movie and ends up ‘whacking’ the chef of some exceptionally good Puerco Pibil.

Ever since seeing the snippet, I’ve wanted to cook this dish and recently at my 30th birthday I finally did, and with great result. Everyone seemed to love it, and it disappeared pretty bloody quick.

We didn’t get a photo of the end result because it disappeared waaaaaaay to quick. So here’s me, the banana leaves from down the back of the yard, and my marinaded pork that I had ‘set aside’ earlier.

In New Zealand, getting hold of the key ingredient (besides the pork) was a bit of a mission. I found the Annato seeds from Mexi Foods in Dunedun and orders a descent size bag for $10 (although I didn’t use the credit card form, because they don’t t say what company takes the payments – they possibly just email your credit card info to themselves, which isn’t too good, but that’s just my assumption).

Then, once you’ve got those (and some banana leaves from my back yard) you’re good to go. Here is the 10 minute cooking school clip from youtube. Although, whoever uploaded this cut out the scene when Robert tells us to marinade the pork overnight.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Sticky Tape
Oh wait, that was the idea I wanted to send in to play school.

Here’s what you’ll really need:

For the Achiote Paste:

5 tbsp annatto seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
8 pieces allspice
½ tsp cloves

In a spice grinder/mill grind all the ingredients for the Achiote Paste into a fine powder.

The the dish itself:

2.6kg of pork shoulder or scotch cut into 5cm cubes (Americans say 5lbs pork butt, cut into 2 inch cubes – those crazy yanks)
banana leaves
½ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup white vinegar
2 tbsp salt
Juice of 5 lemons
8 cloves garlic
2 habanero peppers, chopped (habanero’s are pretty hard to find in New Zealand, just use 2-4 available chillies according to taste – although how you taste a chilli I’m unsure)
1 shot (or so) of the finest quality tequila you can manage

The method:

  1. In a blender, blend annatto paste (spices), garlic, orange juice, vinegar, lemon juice, chillies, tequilia and salt until smooth and well mixed.
  2. In a large zip lock bag, add pork and the blended mixture and jiggle until evenly coated.
  3. Leave in the fridge overnight to marinade.
  4. Preheat oven to 175°C 160°C (325°F).
  5. Line a deep roasting dish with the banana leaves, dump the pork mixture into the disk and cover with another layer of banana leaves.
  6. Cover tightly with tin foil so the steam can’t escape and bake for 4 hours.
  7. When it finally comes out, it should all fall apart when you dig a fork into it.

Serve on a bed of white rice, and some nice crunchy mild peppers, or try shredding the meat and eat it like a fajita in a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato and sour cream.


PS: I have loads of annato seeds left if someone close want to try the recipe out 🙂


  1. Ruth says:

    My husband and I plan to try the recipe out, after watch the DVD extras but we have be prevented by a lack of Annato seeds. Could we get some off you?

  2. Dave says:

    Hi Ruth,

    I think I’ve got a few left (we’ve been making it like mad though – and I highly recommend you make it too :).

    I’m in Auckland (Browns Bay), where abouts are you?

    Did you try Mexifoods? –>

  3. Ruth says:

    I am in Auckland too (near Eden Park). I plan to make it for my husband’s birthday but have left it a little too late to get seeds from Mexifoods, so if I could buy a handful of seeds of you that would be awesome. I am happy to come over and pick them up. Email me at r.kerr at

  4. Chris says:

    Just ordered my annattoo seeds, ive been wanting to make this dish for years! quick question for ya tho, do you por the leftover liquid in the bag into the baking tray aswell or just the marinated meat?

  5. Dave says:

    @Chris: Yes, everything from the bag goes into the dish (something with decent sides to hold the juices) – it smells very strong, but cooks down into a really tasty sauce and prevents the meat from getting dry. I’m glad you’re giving it a go – its the new favorite of almost everyone we make it for 😀

  6. Chris says:

    Awsome thanx for that, i should have the seeds either tomorrow or wednesday so ill let you know how it goes.

  7. Chris says:

    Oh thats also what i ment to ask, Banana Leaves, ive been told i can do it in just tin foil but bugger that i wanna go the whole hog, any leads? where did you get yours from?

  8. Michelle Richards says:

    Having tasted Dave’s Puerco Pibil I can tell you it is one of the most memorable dishes I have tasted mmmmmm

  9. Softy says:

    Hey there… I made this and it was amazing! About to make it again today. Only I could not find Banana Leaves for love nor money. Went to a local Asian Supermarket and was told they no longer are allowed to sell them. Any leads on where I could buy some online? I live in the middle of the country so online ordering is tops. S

  10. Softy says:

    Oh, also I got my Annato Seeds from Global Foods Direct 2 x 40 g pots for about $5.00 each… and they threw in some Adobo too… a traditional South American seasoning of oregano, red bell pepper and cayenne pepper. For free! And some christian propaganda, which I found odd.

  11. Dave says:

    @Softy: Thanks for letting us know about Global Foods Direct. Their name rings a bell – I wonder if they didn’t have a website back when I was looking… I might give them a go next time… when my 750gm bag runs out 😀

    Ahhh banana leaves. I’ve never had the need to buy them since they grow in my backyard. I guess they might be harder to come by the further south (and cooler) you get. I’d suggest keeping an eye out in your neighbourhood, and asking around – you might be surprised. Failing that, maybe look at some alternatives. I was thinking Taro leaves, which would add a pretty local touch, but there are other suggestions like Corn Husks or even Cabbage via google ( being one result).

    I’m glad you tried it – I love it. It’s fun to cook and to eat. Let us know if you try it with an alternative.

    PS: If you love Mexican, we’ve been eating Las Palmas Red Enchilanda Sauce which I think is super tasty and nicely spicy, though I’m not happy with the different tortillas I’ve used so far.

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