Hibiscus flowers are used in Mexico to make a cold, sweetened beverage or to brew a relaxing tea that can also be used to treat hipertension (high blood pressure). The flowers are usually discarded after brewing, but they can be used as a meat substitute. I have discovered in the process that I can get a lot more beverage from a batch of flowers than I thought. The chewy texture resembles shredded beef or pork, and they absorb the flavors of garlic and onion when sauteed. If you don’t live in Mexico, you may be able to find hibiscus in a supermarket or Mexican grocery, or you can order it on Amazon. These tacos got a hearty thumbs-up even from the non-vegans at my house in Cancún.
PRIOR TO MAKING THE TACOS Cover 1 c HIBISCUS FLOWERS with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and keep the liquid to make tea or beverage. Repeat with the same flowers 2 more times, until the liquid is very light in color. Drain the flowers well and set them aside.
INGREDIENTS 1 c hibiscus flowers, boiled and drained / 1/2 c onion, finely chopped, for sauteeing / 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped / 1 Tbsp olive oil for sauteeing / salt to taste / 8 corn tortillas / 1 c lettuce, finely chopped / 1 c onion, finely chopped / 1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped (optional) / salsa, to taste (about 2 Tbsp for each taco)
PREP TIME 20 min / COOK TIME 10-15 min, med heat / NEED skillet / MAKES 8-10 tacos
- Sautée 1/2 c FINELY CHOPPED ONION and 2 CLOVES OF GARLIC, PEELED AND CHOPPED in 1 Tbsp OLIVE OIL until onions are soft and transparent.
- Add 1 c WELL-DRAINED HIBISCUS FLOWERS and SALT to taste.
- Cook thoroughly over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning with spatula.
- Place hibiscus mixture on a fresh hot corn tortilla, add lettuce, chopped onion, CILANTRO and salsa.
- Recommended side dishes are refried beans, Mexican Rice, avocado slices, and cold agua de jamaica. ¡Buen provecho!