Pepián Zapoteco (Zapotec Pumpkin Seed Sauce)

“Adapted from Saveur. This very traditional mesoamerican sauce shows the influence of Oaxaca's location on the southern coast of Mexico. Serve this sauce over baked or fried chicken. Ingredient notes: There's really no substitute for epazote, so if you can't find it, just omit it. If Mexican anise is not available, asian star anise can be substituted. Arbol chiles are hot, so you may want to protect your hands when you are removing the stems and seeds, and be careful not to wipe your eyes or mouth. You can start with canned rather than dry beans, and skip the first step.”
1hr 45mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 cup white beans (dry. Substitute 3 cups canned)
  • 6 pods mexican anise
  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds, hulled
  • 3 dried arbol chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 12 ounces dried shrimp
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons epazote, crumbled, dried


  1. Carefully pick over beans and rinse. Place in medium saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil rapidly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let beans sit for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, put anise in a small saucepan with 1 cup water, bring to boil, and reduce liquid by half. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile place pumpkin seeds in a food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse for 3 minutes.
  4. Heat a griddle or small cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Rinse the chiles under cold running water, then dry roast them on the griddle, letting them cook for about 15 seconds on each side. Do not let them scorch, cook just until the aroma is released. Purée the chiles in food processor or blender with 1 cup chicken stock.
  5. Add the purée to the beans. Add dried shrimp, onion, epazote, anise infusion, and remaining chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes or until beans are cooked to mush, adding water if needed.

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