Mexican rice comes in many colors. This rice uses achiote (annatto) seeds which infuse a saffron-like color to the rice. In fact, these seeds are sometimes referred to as “poor man’s saffron.”
This recipe is typical of the Yucatán region of Mexico, as well as it’s Gulf Coast. But it is eaten throughout the country and even here in Wisconsin!
Arroz Amarillo (Yellow Rice with Peas and Mint)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ tablespoon achiote (annatto) seeds
½ medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup fresh (cooked) or frozen (thawed) peas
1 ½ teaspoon fresh mint, finely chopped (optional)
In a sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the achiote seeds to the oil and stir until it reaches a rich golden color, about 1 minute. Stir to make sure the seeds don’t burn. Remove from the heat, strain out the seeds and discard them.
Return the pan with the oil to the stove. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring until the onion is soft but not brown.
Add the rice. Cook and stir until the rice is golden. Add the broth or water, salt and pepper. Bring the rice to a boil.
Reduce the heat and cover. Cool for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peas and mint over the top of the rice. Let them sit on top of the rice for 5 minutes. Then, fluff the rice, stirring in the peas and mint. Serve.
Note: If you use broth, try to use a light colored broth so it doesn’t mask the color of the achiote seeds. This recipe is vegetarian and vegan if you use water or vegetable broth.