Dear SOS: I recently checked out Amaranta Cocina Mexicana at the Westfield Shopping Center in Woodland Hills. I'm not a vegetarian, but our server made us try these amazing hibiscus flower enchiladas that were truly life-changing. Do you think you could get that recipe? Thanks!
S. Ashley Crame
Dear S. Ashley: Jamaica flowers (of the hibiscus family) are typically found in vivid red teas, but these tart dried buds are an unusually delicious filling for enchiladas. They're combined with peppers, onion and zucchini, then rolled in warm tortillas and topped with a spoonful of creamy chipotle sauce.
Amaranta Cocina's hibiscus enchiladas with chipotle sauce
Total time: About 1 hour, plus rehydrating time
Note: Adapted from a recipe by executive chef Sarah Rocio Gomez of Amaranta Cocina Mexicana. Dried jamaica (hibiscus) flowers can be found at Latino and health-food markets, as well as Surfas in Culver City and Nicole's Gourmet in South Pasadena.
Chipotle sauce2 tablespoons diced onions
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup tomato puree
1 chipotle pepper (canned in adobo sauce), chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the tomato purée and chipotle pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to blend and the sauce to reduce slightly; lower the heat if the bottom of the pan gets too hot so the sauce doesn't burn.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream, then set aside. Makes about 1 1/4 cups sauce.
Enchiladas and assembly2 1/2 cups (4 ounces) dried jamaica flowers
4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced zucchini
1/2 cup finely diced bell pepper (combination of red, yellow and green)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups olive oil
12 corn tortillas
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup crumbled queso fresco, ranchero or other fresh cheese
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the jamaica flowers with 4 cups of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and simmer the flowers for 30 minutes to rehydrate completely. Strain the flowers, then allow them to cool to room temperature. Finely dice and set aside.
2. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over high heat and add the onions. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Reduce the heat to medium and add the diced flowers, zucchini and bell pepper, stirring occasionally and cooking until thoroughly warmed. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper, or to taste. Set aside in a warm place.
3. Reheat the chipotle sauce in a medium sauté pan over medium heat until warmed, stirring frequently. The warmed sauce should be pourable; if too thick, add just enough water to thin to the desired consistency. Keep warm.
3. In a medium sauté pan, combine the oils and heat until a thermometer inserted reads 360 degrees. Dip the tortillas into the oil, one at a time, for just 1 second to warm through, then remove to a paper-towel-lined tray to absorb the excess oil.
4. To assemble the enchiladas, spoon one-half cup filling into the center of each tortilla, then roll the tortilla to form an enchilada. Place two enchiladas onto a plate for each serving, and divide the warmed chipotle sauce evenly over each serving. Spoon 2 tablespoons of sour cream over each serving, and sprinkle over 2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco, or to taste. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 525 calories; 9 grams protein; 33 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 41 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 63 mg. cholesterol; 644 mg. sodium.