I was on the hunt for some cranberry juice in Merida when I decided to check out hibiscus flowers, or flores de Jamaica as they are called here. You can buy them everywhere, they are super cheap and, after doing some research, are like cranberry juice to the 10th power.
Hibiscus flowers are known to be:
High in Antioxidants that help fight cancer, slow aging and calm hot flashes;
High in Vitamin C to boost immunity and increase metabolism;
A natural anti-inflammatory and diuretic;
Helpful in lowering cholesterol.
We love Agua de Jamaica—it’s refreshing on a hot muggy day, easy to make (just like tea), and hardly needs to be sweetened. It’s great in smoothies, added to homemade sangrita and watermelon gazpacho, reduced as a syrup for yummy cocktails or a reduction for Hibiscus Tacos (see below)—even drizzled over ice cream!
Here are a few links that feature this edible flower, along with a rough and tumble recipe for Hibiscus Tacos from the great people at Limón Restaurant on Isla Mujeres:
Courtesy of Sergio Contreras Martínez and Charrissa Gillingham,
Limón Restaurant, Isla Mujeres
Boil hibiscus flowers. Strain and save “tea” and flowers separately. Rinse flowers several times to remove pistils.
To make the reduction
Put 2 cups of brown sugar in pan with chunks of fresh ginger root. Let sugar melt, add hibiscus tea, add a couple of spoons of soy sauce, cook on low flame until it forms a reduction, with the consistency of honey.
To make tacos
Cut a quarter of red onion, a bit of garlic, sauteé for 4-5 minutes, then add flowers. Cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add fresh cilantro. In the meantime, in a flour tortilla, put some grated cheese, add the flower mix, form the taco. Place taco in a clean pan and toast on both sides. Drizzle tacos with hibiscus reduction. Serve with Guacamole and Pico de Gallo.