I know what you’re thinking…flowers? In a taco?! Before you jump to the conclusion that this must be some crazy vegan trend, let me elaborate. Hibiscus Flowers or Flor de Jamaica have been part of mexican cuisine for a while not just as a drink ( agua de jamaica) but as part of a variety of savoury and sweet dishes, including enchiladas, quesadillas and tacos like these. The more research I did, the more I was convinced that I had to try to make these in my test kitchen. The result ( after 4 tries) was so surprising that my husband, who is a Mexico City native, and a known taco connoisseur gave these his seal of approval. Prepping the flowers correctly is key, you don’t want your tacos to taste like agua de jamaica, you want the delicate lemony flavor to come through along with the onion, garlic and chipotle. Let’s be adventurous and eat tacos made with flowers!
- 4 cups dried Hibiscus/ Jamaica flowers
- 1 large onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 2 cups of water
- 2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper or to taste
For the Salsa
- 1 roma tomato
- 2 tomatillos
- 1 piece of onion
- 1 unpeeled garlic clove
- 2 serrano chiles
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup water
Step 1 – Prepare the flowers for cooking by sorting and removing any debris; rinse under running water in a large strainer; add hibiscus to a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil; drain the liquid from the pot and reserve it ( you can make agua de jamaica with it later) rinse the hibiscus very well in a strainer and squeeze out the water; if the water does not run clear, repeat the boiling process again ( no need to reserve the water from a second boil ) when the water runs clear your flowers are ready for braising. Place them in a bowl and use kitchen scissors to chop the flowers up into smaller pieces; set aside.
Step 2 – heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet; finely chop the onion and add to the pan, cook until soft and golden; finely mince the garlic and add it in with the onion, cook for 5 minutes on low heat; add the hibiscus flowers and stir to combine, add 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stir to avoid burning them.
Step 3 – to a blender add 2 tomatoes, 2 chipotle chiles, 1 tbsp liquid smoke, 2 cups of water and process until smooth; add this to the hibiscus, cover and braise on low heat for 25 minutes; uncover, turn heat to medium/high and cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes; taste and adjust seasoning if needed; heat tortillas and place about 1 spoonful of the braised hibiscus, top with raw onion, fresh chopped cilantro, lime juice and salsa.
To make salsa heat a griddle or comal and roast the tomato, tomatillos, serranos, onion and unpeeled garlic clove, turning frequently until onion, garlic, serranos are charred and the tomato, tomatillos are soft; peel garlic, transfer everything to a blender add 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp salt, pulse to chop up ingredients, do not puree completely it should be a bit chunky.