Guatemalan Recipe: Tapado Seafood Soup

It’s winter and I’m craving a bowl of Guatemalan tapado soup. A taste of the tropics is just what’s needed to brighten up a gloomy winter day. And nothing quite says the tropics like the sunny Caribbean flavours of tapado soup, rich with seafood, coconut milk and bursting with fresh spices.

While you may not heard of tapado, it’s one of the most popular traditional Guatemalan foods from the country’s Caribbean coast and is a delicious concoction of seafood, plantain and coconut milk. It’s also easy to make.

Here’s a Guatemalan recipe for tapado soup that will be sure to become one of your favourite dishes.

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Unlike the hearty stews of the highlands of Guatemala such as Kak-ik, pulique and pepian, tapado seafood soup hails from Puerto Barrios and Livingston on Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. Also known as the banana coast due to the vast quantities of bananas produced in the region, it’s home to the Garifuna people, a distinct cultural group originally from Africa who settled on the coasts of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

Castillo de San Felipe Guatemala

You can also sample tapado in Rio Dulce town home to Castillo de San Felipe

The music, religion and culinary traditions of the Garifuna are quite different from those of the Maya from the highlands. You’re more likely to see fish, shrimp, coconut, plantain, banana and hot pepper sauces in the typical dishes in this region. Tapado (as it’s most often “topped” with a fried whole fish) is a dish that combines all of those ingredients in perfect harmony. It’s a very popular dish during Garifuna Settlement Day, one of the largest, most exuberant  festivals in Guatemala. 

Other popular Guatemalan dishes in Livingston, Rio Dulce and Puerto Barrios  include pan de coco, a coconut bread sold from baskets by women in the markets and pescado guisado con coco, whole fish steamed in coconut milk with vegetables.

Grace food products and other ingredients for tapado Guatemala

Grace food products and other ingredients for tapado

If you’re craving a taste of the tropics, it’s time to make some tapado. This tapado Guatemalan recipe is easy to make and fun for entertaining as it’s a real conversation starter. After all, how often do you get to taste a soup with bananas in it?

Insider Tip: If you’re in Guatemala, you don’t have to go all the way to Livingston for authentic tapado. If you’re headed to Coban, Esquipulas or Tikal, you can sample some very fine tapado at Marea Roja Restaurante located on the Atlantic Highway just before El Rancho.

Guatemalan Recipe for Tapado Soup

Tapado Guatemalan Recipe

A taste of the tropics with this easy recipe for Tapado from Livingston Guatemala

January also happens to be Soup Month at Grace Foods.  Founded in 1922  and now the Caribbean’s leading food manufacturer and distributor, Grace Foods produces  their famous 100% pure coconut water, jerk sauces, coconut oil and hot pepper sauces as well as exciting new products such as coconut vinegar, a wellness product that’s packed with so many health benefits its vying with apple cider vinegar in popularity. Most importantly for our family, none of Grace Food Product line contains the Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) additive, so no worries about having an adverse reaction.

Tapado Garifuna Ingredients 

Another one of the key ingredients for tapado soup is achiote, a spice and food colorant made from crushed annato seeds. It adds an slightly earthy taste and the all-important red colour to the soup. It can be purchased at virtually every Latin food shop and is quite inexpensive so is well worth adding to your pantry. If you don’t have any Latin food shops in your neighbourhood, you can also purchase it on Amazon in a paste or powder form such as the popular  El Yucateco Achiote Red Paste, 3.5 oz.

5 from 3 votes
Tapado is a popular dish to eat on Garifuna Settlement Day
Tapado: A Guatemalan Seafood Soup Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
A creamy seafood soup featuring rich coconut milk and plantains
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Guatemalan
Keyword: Guatemalan tapado, tapado, tapado recipe Guatemala
Servings: 2
Calories: 290 kcal
Author: Michele Peterson
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp jalapeno
  • small handful cilantro
  • 1/2 fresh red bell pepper
  • 2 Roma tomatoes seeded and peeled
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water vegetable or seafood stock
  • 1 cup yuca chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 2 ripe plantains sliced on diagonal
  • 1 green banana sliced on diagonal
  • 1/2 can Grace Foods coconut milk
  • 20 raw fish peeled and deveined but tails on
  • 2 Caribbean lobster tails if available or mixed seafood of your choice
  • 4 filets of firm white fish or you can fry a whole fish
  • 1/4 tsp achiote
  • Grace Foods Hot Pepper sauce
  1. Chop the first six ingredients in a food processor
  2. Place oil in the bottom of a large soup pot
  3. Saute the chopped vegetables in oil until soft but not browned.
  4. Dissolve the achiote in warm water and mix with the vegetable or seafood stock
  5. Add water and achiote to sauteed vegetables
  6. Pour in coconut milk
  7. Heat until simmering and add plantain, banana and yuca
  8. Cook for around 10 minutes
  9. Add seafood and simmer for another 5-10 minutes until vegetables and seafood is tender but not mushy.
  10. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  11. If you want to prepare it the traditional way, you can deep-fry a whole fish and lay it on the top of the soup
  12. Serve with white rice, tortillas and Grace Foods hot pepper sauce


If You Liked This Post You May Also Enjoy:  

And that’s not the end of the ideas for Caribbean and Guatemalan recipes! Visit the Grace Foods website for tips on Cooking with Grace Foods or check out our recetas guatemaltecas and Caribbean Garifuna recipes below.

Salpicon de Res: Shredded Mint and beef appetizer 

Pulique: A Ceremonial Chicken from A Mayan Cooking Class in Guatemala

Green Bean Fritters or Tortitas de Ejote Guatemalteco 

Pescado Seco Envuelto en Huevo  or Bacalao a la Vizcaina

Christmas Eve Salad or Ensalada de Nochebuena 

Tortitas de Berro or Watercress Omelettes 

 Keshi Yena from Aruba 

Siboya Tempera hot sauce from Aruba 

Poisson Cru Tahitienne: A Tahitian Fish Ceviche Recipe

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Tapado A Guatemalan recipe for Caribbean seafood soup

Michele Peterson
Michele Peterson
Dividing her time between Toronto, Mexico and Guatemala (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is an award-winning writer, blogger, editor and publisher who specializes in travel, cuisine and luxury lifestyles.
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Showing 13 comments
  • Heather Koroluk

    That tapado recipe looks absolutely delicious! adding to my must try recipes.

  • Dianna

    Great family meal.

    I love the jerk spices

  • Kathy V

    Love the coconut milk!

  • nickie

    I like the jerk spices

  • Pat Capo

    I’m craving Caribbean flavours, too, especially seafood. I’d like to try the Grace coconut milk or coconut oil!

  • @loucheryl

    I’d love the Coconut Milk to try first. I would love to add it to my cooking. 🙂

  • salvatore

    The coconut milk sounds really versatile and could be used in many dishes.

  • Cheryl Morreale

    I follow @tastefortravel as @loucheryl . Auto correct put @l and I hit enter by mistake and now I can’t correct it. Sorry.

    • Michele Peterson

      Thanks for following Cheryl and best of luck on the giveaway!

  • Kelly D

    I can’t wait to try the coconut milk in my next fish dish!

  • Tammy Dalley

    I would love to try the coconut milk!

  • Cassandra D

    Coconut milk.

  • john

    Great complete family meal.

    I like the jerk spices

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