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Not Just a Pretty Face

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Just when you thought you knew what to eat and what all the super foods were, another one appears on the list. Looks like Hibiscus is the new pomegranate. I have heard some murmurings about the scarlet colored flower gone beverage and have seen some tea shops offering hibiscus tea, but a recent trip to Whole Foods confirmed my suspicions with a bottle beverage right in a display case.  That’s right, the patio perennial favorite is not just a pretty face-it is good for you too.

 The beautiful red flower petals of the hibiscus have a slightly tart/berry flavor and are used commonly for making tea, sorbet and savory dishes. Drinking hibiscus tea has many health benefits from boosting circulation, lowering blood pressure and loading you up with antioxidants.

 Hibiscus petals are used for teas and sauces around the world. From the Middle East to Latin America and Jamaica-everyone loves hibiscus. JDaters®-I do not want you to be out of the loop on the new darling of the food world. I am offering you some  that are perfect for summer entertaining. Enjoy!

 Halibut with Quinoa/Goat Cheese Stuffed Poblanos and Hibiscus Cream Sauce 

Olive oil

4-6 ounce halibut filets

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

4 poblano peppers, roasted*

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)

4 ounces goat cheese or feta cheese

2 cups cooked quinoa 

For the sauce

2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

3 tablespoons hibiscus petals  (tea shops and spice shops)

¾ cup of heavy cream

  1. Place a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Pat dry the fish filets. Salt and pepper the fish. Sprinkle the fresh herbs over the fish and gently pat the herbs on to the fish. Place the fish into the preheated pan. Brown the fish on one side and transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan.
  2. Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat and lightly coat the bottom with olive oil. Sauté the onion, garlic and jalapeno if using, until the vegetables are lightly browned and fragrant (about 5 minutes)
  3. Mix the vegetables, cheese and quinoa together in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Cut a small slit into the peppers. Spoon the quinoa filling into each pepper.

     Transfer the peppers to a casserole.

  1. Place small sauté pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and cook the shallot and garlic for several minutes. Add the hibiscus and cream. Raise the heat and reduce the sauce by one-half. Pour the mixture through a strainer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  1. Cook the fish and peppers in the oven for about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Serve the fish and peppers with the sauce drizzled over. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Hibiscus/ Basil Gimlet

Serves 4

 1 cup brewed hibiscus tea, chilled

4 ounces vodka

¼ cup simple syrup

Dash of fresh lime juice

 Several fresh basil leaves for garnish

 1. Shake hibiscus tea with vodka, simple syrup and lime juice. Garnish with fresh basil

Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here. For more articles by Laura, click here.
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  • Jeff K says:

    Trader Joe’s sells a mixture of cashews and dried hibiscus. It’s delicious!

  • sheila jacobson says:

    i first started drinking hibiscus tea when i lived in jerusalaem — although at the time the tea was imported from germany.

    and the hibiscus flowers bloomed in ramat gan, where my sister lived, as well as in jerusalem.

    thanks for bringing the hibiscus flower back to my attention!

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