Hibiscus Flower TACOS / TACOS de Flor de Jamaica

Hibiscus flowers are commonly 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 in a number of dishes. I have also discovered in the process that I can get a lot more beverage from a batch of flowers than I thought. The chewy texture resembles that of 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.

PREP TIME 20 min / COOK TIME 10-15 min, med heat / NEED skillet / MAKES 8-10 tacos

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)
  1. 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.
  2. Add 1 c WELL-DRAINED HIBISCUS FLOWERS and SALT to taste.
  3. Cook thoroughly over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning with spatula.
  4. Place hibiscus mixture on a fresh hot corn tortilla, add lettuce, chopped onion, CILANTRO and salsa.
  5. Recommended side dishes are refried beans, Mexican Rice, avocado slices, and cold agua de jamaica. ¡Buen provecho!

Mexican Fried RICE (no oil) / Sopa de ARROZ (sin aceite)

PREP TIME 30 min / COOK TIME 20 min / NEED blender / non-stick skillet / MAKES 2 cups

INGREDIENTS (RECAUDO): 1 lb tomatoes / 2 cloves garlic / 1/4 medium onion / small amt water / (SOPA): 1 cup rice / 1/2 tsp salt or to taste / 1/8 tsp cumin (optional) / 1/8 tsp black pepper (optional) / 1 cup recaudo / 1 cup water

RECAUDO

  1. Plunge 1 lb. tomatoes into boiling water until the skin loosens (about 5 minutes)
  2. Cool and peel the tomatoes; blend with 2 cloves garlic, peeled, 1/4 medium onion, and just enough water for blending. This mix is the recaudo.

SOPA

  1. Lightly blend 1 c recaudo (store any left over in the refrigerator to use later) with 1 c WATER
  2. Wash 1 c RICE thoroughly and drain off excess water
  3. Heat a NON-STICK SKILLET until a drop of water jumps when dropped on it.
  4. Put the rice in the skillet, stirring and turning it until it is golden brown, about 10 minutes
  5. Pour in the RECAUDO and water mixture all at once. Add SALT, PEPPER and CUMIN. Stir lightly.
  6. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat as low as possible. The liquid should continue to bubble very slightly. Cover loosely, leaving enough air space so the mixture doesn’t boil over. Cook 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
  7. Uncover the rice and let it stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  8. Serve plain or add cooked chopped vegetables, like peas, carrots, corn or zucchini.