Originating near the border of Mexico and Guatemala, this wonderfully delicate pumpkin seed sauce is traditionally is served with poached chicken, turkey or pork and is also used as a filling for tamales.






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (5 votes)



  • 800 g pork neck (see Note)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 whole allspice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp salt


Pumpkin seed sauce


  • 500 g tomato
  • 200 g tomatillo (see Note)
  • ½ white onion
  • 80 g hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 60 g sesame seeds
  • 2 whole allspice
  • 3 black peppercorn
  • 2 chilli pequin (see Note)
  • 1 cup pork stock
  • salt and black pepper


To serve

  • steamed green beans
  • steamed rice
  • fresh corn tortillas

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place the pork neck in a large casserole pan and cover with cold water. Add the onion, garlic, allspice, bay leaves, oregano and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 2 ½–3 hours until tender and almost falling apart. Strain stock, discarding solids, and reserve. Roughly shred meat and cover to keep warm.

To make the pumpkin seed sauce, place the tomato and onion in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the tomatillos and simmer for a further 2–3 minutes until the tomatoes are soft. Drain and transfer to a blender.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Toast the pumpkin seeds, stirring frequently, for 3–5 minutes until lightly golden and starting to puff up. Set aside one-quarter of the seeds, adding the remainder to the blender. Return the pan to the heat and add the sesame seeds, allspice, peppercorns and pequin chilli, and continue cooking until the sesame seeds are golden. Remove from the heat, add to the blender and blend until as smooth as possible. Add 125 ml (½ cup) of the reserved pork stock and blend until combined.

Transfer the sauce to a large saucepan and gently reheat. Season to taste and stir in the remaining pork stock until you have a loose but homogenous sauce.

Spoon sauce onto plates and top with shredded pork and extra pumpkin seeds. Serve with green beans, rice and tortillas.



• Pork neck is also referred to as pork scotch.

• For a quicker alternative to the pork neck, cut an equal amount of pork fillet into four pieces and simmer gently in water with the aromatics for 6–8 minutes until almost cooked through. Turn off the heat and allow to poach for 20 minutes. Strain and proceed as above.

• Tomatillos are only available fresh during summer from specialty growers. If unavailable, substitute drained, canned tomatillos and omit the cooking step as they are ready to use. Canned tomatillos are available from Latin food stores.

• Chilli pequin is available from Mexican grocers and speciality food stores. If unavailable, substitute 2 dried bird’s eye chillies or 1 dried red chilli. Don’t use chilli powder as it isn’t a suitable alternative.


Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Kristine Duran-Thiessen. Coloured glassware from Market Import; tiles from Di Lorenzo.