Teala's Thai-Mexican Fusion: Cochinita Pibil

It's a little known fact that Teala's Mexican Restaurant and Bar on West Dallas actually serves a Thai-Mexican fusion menu. Thai and Mexican flavors have a lot in common -- they both use lime, cilantro and very hot peppers -- so the marriage of the two cuisines is a logical pairing.

Owners Teal and Surin Anomaiprasert, natives of Thailand, were inspired to create their multicultural cuisine after a trip to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. While all of the dishes listed on the menu sound like straightforward traditional Mexican fare, there's more to it than meets the eye. "Our signature cochinita pibil is probably the best example of the Thai-Mexican fusion," says Christina Anomiaprasert-Almy, whose parents opened the restaurant in 1993.

The cochinita pibil is aromatic, slow-roasted pork heaped on a banana leaf, topped with a flurry of chopped cilantro. Interestingly enough, there's also a Thai pickled cucumber and red onion salad, which adds a refreshing acidic element to the dish. While the soft, juicy pork tenderloin tastes like it has distinct Asian influences, it seems to be right at home wrapped in a flour tortilla with Spanish rice, refried black beans and pico de gallo. Animoaprasert-Almy says that it's a secret family recipe, but reveals that the marinade includes pineapple juice, soy sauce, white pepper and ground cumin.

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