Sea Salt with Dried Hibiscus Flowers
Sal con Flor de Jamaica
by Victoria Challancin
As soon as I saw it on the internet, I was intrigued. I knew I had to have it. Well, with a price tag of over twenty dollars for 150g, at least I knew I had to make it, and make it I did: Sea Salt with Dried Hibiscus Flowers. So pretty, so beguiling, so...interesting. I could later figure out what to actually do with it.
As I was creating the recipe in my mind, I immediately thought of my beloved Sumac, a favorite, favorite, favorite ingredient that I lug back from the Middle East on every trip. I wrote about it on a post called Sumac: A Culinary Treat, complete with history, medicinal uses, and three recipes for using it. Sumac is tangy, tart, and so pretty. It can be used dried as a garnish, adding a beautiful red hue as well as a lemony tang to a dish or even soaked and used in a similar way. So can Hibiscus flowers.
Sumac? Even the taste is somewhat similar.
And of course the color of the salt was so pretty that I just had to try it out against different backgrounds.
In Mexico, my adapted home for almost 24 years, hibiscus flowers (flor de jamaica) are much used. This common ingredient is used in aguas frescas, as a taco filling, crumbled dried into salads, soaked and reduced to act as an acid in vinaigrettes, and more. But this is the stuff of another post I can feel brewing...
For me, the possibility of using dried hibiscus flowers in my cooking classes is a boon. I try not to use ingredients that aren't readily available here in San Miguel de Allende--it just would be fair to my students if they don't have access to them. I often do use sumac as a simple garnish, however, but say that it is "optional." Now I am thinking that pure dried ground hibiscus flowers could really work as a substitute--with or without the salt.
The Recipe: Sea Salt with Dried Hibiscus Flowers
by Victoria Challancin
Cook's Notes: Because the hibiscus flowers (flor de jamaica) from the market were so lovely and fresh, they were just too moist and pliable to grind. I ground them once, passed them through a colander, and found I had to further dry them at a low temperature for about 10 minutes. After regrinding them, I repeated the process. The ratio I chose was 2/1, flowers to sea salt and the sea salt I used was from Mexico, a gift from a friend. If you want to use the ground flowers like sumac, simply omit the salt.
2 parts dried hibiscus flowers
1 part sea salt or kosher salt
Grind the dried flowers in a clean spice grinder or blender. Strain through a mesh colander into a bowl. Add the sea salt and mix thoroughly. Store in a sterilized glass jar in a dark place, such as a cupboard or pantry shelf out of the light. Use as a colorful and tangy finish for salads, bread, fish, shrimp, meat, or poultry. Use your imagination and enjoy!
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read more on condiments:
Flavors of the Sun Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, México
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.