Friday, January 29, 2016

Hibiscus Swirl Pound Cake

During the winter holiday season, I like to have something ready to serve friends who might stop by. This pound cake keeps well, as all pound cakes do, and can be dressed up with a glaze, a beautiful garnish, a drizzle of syrup, or a splash of whipped cream.

I use Hibiscus Flower Extracts here, from the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company, who were kind enough to send some to me for recipe development. It gives a faint pink color (which I have enhanced with food dye) and a lovely subtle flavor. To form a beautiful and edible garnish, I rolled preserved Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup in granulated sugar, and let them dry for several hours.

Hibiscus Swirl Pound Cake
by Maurita Plouff
Blogging at Get the Good Stuff!
One 9 x 5 loaf

5 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extra
1 teaspoon wild hibiscus flower extract
Pink or red food dye, optional

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan.

Warm the eggs: Place the uncracked eggs in a bowl, and pour hot water over them. Let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.

Combine flour and salt, and sift them together onto a sheet of waxed paper.

Put the butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat until smooth and creamy. Slowly add the sugar, beating constantly, until the mixture is well blended. Crack the warmed eggs into the batter, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Continue beating, as you gradually sprinkle in the flour mixture, and continue to beat until the batter is smooth and well blended.

Remove about half the batter to a separate bowl. Into the remaining batter, add 1 teaspoon wild hibiscus extract, and beat well. If you wish, add food dye to make a pleasing shade.

Put both batters in the prepared pan, alternating large spoonfuls, until all the batter has been added. Swirl a long-bladed table knife through the batter in a random pattern, mixing the two colors around a bit.

Smooth the top of the cake with a rubber spatula. Bake at 325°F about an hour, until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, place the pan on a rack, and let cool at least 15 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan and cool it completely on the rack.

Wrap well to store the cake.

Pink Hibiscus Glaze:

Note: Glaze cake at serving time; the cake stores better unglazed.

1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 Tablespoon milk
3/4 teaspoon wild hibiscus flower extract

Sift confectioners sugar. Add melted butter, milk and extract; beat until smooth and creamy. Add more milk drop by drop if needed until desired texture is achieved. Pour over cooled cake.

Sugared Hibiscus Flower Garnish:

Put about 1/2 cup granulated sugar on a plate. Gently take hibiscus flower(s) out of the jar, shaking bits of syrup off. Roll the flower in granulated sugar, coating both outside and inside petals. Let stand several hours.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Blue “Vesper” Martini: Shaken not Stirred

In the 1953 Ian Fleming novel Casino Royale, James Bond ordered the then unnamed Vesper Martini. He requested a dry martini. “Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, and half a measure of Kina Lillet”. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then, add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” Well, here we are in 2015 and I think it might be time to give that Vesper an update! When I received the b’Lure Butterfly Pea Flower Extract from Wild Hibiscus Flower Company, I knew a Blue “Vesper” was in order. Our generous sponsor also sent along Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup. Talk about a gorgeous cocktail! It’s always nice to have a spectacular garnish. Who needs a lemon peel! I prepared and served this delightful cocktail as we waited for our first course.

The Blue “Vesper” Martini: Shaken not Stirred
by Susan R-H

3 ounces Gin (I chose our local distilled Bluecoat)
1 ounce Vodka, pick your favorite
12-15 drops b’Lure Butterfly Pea Flower Extract
1 Wild Hibiscus Flower with a bit of the syrup, just for the beauty of the garnish

Chill a martini glass. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gin, vodka and b’Lure. Shake until really cold! Put a bit of syrup in the glass and top with the Wild Hibiscus Flower, then, gently pour the martini in the glass. It will be pretty and very tasty. I sort of felt like a spy while sipping this. I just wish I had his car……

Monday, January 25, 2016

Petite Hibiscus Pecan Cheesecakes

I love flowers and I love cheesecake. And while I believe you can never have too many flowers, cheesecake is a different story. With moderation in mind, I wanted to create a cheese cake option that still offered something to wow family and friends. So I figured why not combine edible hibiscus flowers, cheesecake and throw in some toasted pecans to create a unique, rich, delicious desert.

Petite Hibiscus Pecan Cheesecakes
by Lori Churchill
Recipe makes 18 cakes

4 ounces toasted pecans
4 ounces graham crackers
3 teaspoons butter, soft
2 8-ounce packages Neufchatel cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Hibiscus Flower Extract
2 eggs
A small hand full of toasted pecans for garnish - fine chop
Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup
1 mini cheesecake pan (I used the Norpro brand - designed for 12 mini cheesecakes)

Allow butter, cream cheese and eggs to come to room temperature.

For the crust - Toast pecans in the oven or a cast iron skillet. Blend graham crackers and pecans in a food processor to the desired consistency, add soft butter, mix and set aside.

For the filling - make sure ingredients are at room temperature to make sure they mix together easily.

In a medium mixing bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, honey, heavy cream, vanilla and hibiscus extract, mix just until it comes together (be careful not to over mix).

Crack eggs in a small bowl and gently whip. Add eggs to cream cheese mixture and fold in.

Combining in baking pan - Add a couple of tablespoons of the crust mixture to each spot in your un-greased cheesecake pan. Pack lightly but firmly with a dough tamper. Then add the cheesecake filling, making sure to leave a little room at the top of the pan for your cakes to rise while baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 min. Let cool for 10 minutes and gently remove from pan.

Let cool to room temperature, then further allow to chill in the refrigerator. Once chilled, place on a pretty plate, add a sprinkle of chopped pecans around the cheesecake, drizzle a couple of teaspoons of hibiscus flower syrup on top, then place a hibiscus flower in the center and serve.

Don’t forget to take a photo of your pretty petite cakes before you take that first bite. :)


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Champagne Hibiscus Gelatine

The classic champagne cocktail was the inspiration for this beautiful dessert. The unusual, exotic hibiscus flower is suspended in the base of this sparkling, layered dessert. B’Lure Butterfly Pea Extract provides a lovely blue hue. Make your own version of this showstopping dessert for your next intimate dinner!

Champagne Hibiscus Gelatine
by Gary Gee
My Cooking Blog
Serves/makes 4-6

3 cups champagne, prosecco, or sparkling wine, divided use
1/2 cup sugar
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
B’Lure Flower Extract
2 Tablespoons syrup from jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers
1/4 cup whipping cream
Red food coloring
4-6 crystal champagne flutes
4-6 Wild Hibiscus flowers

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups champagne and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine remaining champagne and gelatin, whisking to combine. Pour in warm champagne/sugar mixture, and whisk to dissolve gelatin.

To create second layer: In a measuring cup (or other spouted vessel), combine 1/4 cup gelatin mixture with approximately 50 drops of B’Lure Flower Extract, until desired color is obtained. Set aside.

To create third layer: In another measuring cup or spouted vessel, combine 1/2 cup gelatin mixture with Wild Hibiscus syrup. Whisk in whipping cream, and set aside. Add 6-8 drops red food coloring, or until desired color is obtained. Set aside.

Reserve remaining gelatin mixture for first layer; create additional layers to your liking.

Place a Wild Hibiscus flower in each champagne flute. With a spouted glass, carefully pour 2-3 ounces of untinted gelatin into each glass until flower is just covered. Chill until slightly set, about 30-45 minutes.

When first layer is set, carefully pour approximately 1/4” B’Lure layer of gelatin mixture into each flute. Chill until slightly set, about 30-45 minutes.

When second layer is set, carefully pour 1/4”-1/2” Hibiscus Cream layer of gelatin mixture into each flute. Chill until set, 45 minutes or overnight.

Note: Champagne glasses vary, thus your yield may differ. Adjust colors and layers to your taste. Have fun with the B’Lure Extract! This product changes color with the acid content of your base. I only made three layers with this recipe, but you could create endless combinations of colors and flavors.

Many thanks to Ronnie Campbell of The Burrell Group and Wild Hibiscus Flower Co., who provided me with their products free of charge.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blue Pear Martini

I love a good Martini, especially pretty ones. I was inspired to make this cocktail by a pear and coconut cake that my mom used to make. Pears, coconut with a bit of cinnamon always tasted so good. The addition of b’lure to the mix makes this drink tasty and beautiful.

Blue Pear Martini
by Tracy Hersh
Serves 1

For the rim:
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Martini:
2 ounces pear vodka
1 ounce coconut water
3 squeezes Wild Hibiscus b'Lure Butterfly Pea Flower Extract
1 lemon twist

Mix together sugar and cinnamon on a small plate. Wet the rim of the glass and swirl around in the sugar mixture until the rim is coated. Set glass aside.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour the vodka, coconut water and Wild Hibiscus b'Lure Butterfly Pea Flower Extract over the ice. Cover and shake well. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Top with a lemon twist. Serve.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Wild Hibiscus and Strawberry Swirl

When I first received the Wild Hibiscus Flower Extract from the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company, I started exploring what would pair with the hibiscus flavor. Goat cheese kept coming up in my searches...and then it hit me! Goat cheese ice cream with a wild hibiscus and strawberry swirl.

I first heard of goat cheese ice cream from a friend that was visiting a boutique ice creamery in Maine. Hearing about it, I was intrigued. I love goat cheese, and I love ice cream. Mix them together? Yes, please! This ice cream is all about the goat cheese. If you use a cheese with a bite to it, your ice cream will have that same bite. This is the time to go to your local farmer's market and buy a mild, fresh goat cheese. You will be happy that you did. In my search for a mild goat cheese, I discovered The Pure Luck Farm, who have been making award winning cheeses since 1998. Their goat cheese is a treat.

Let's talk about the extract. It's the end of strawberry season and they are looking pretty tired in the market. The taste is not much better than they look. It's pretty flat. Adding the Wild Hibiscus Flower Extract from The Wild Hibiscus Company brought out that bright, sweet, juicy, peak of summer, strawberry taste to the berries and made this jam outstanding. This recipe does not make a firm jam. However, the loose consistency is perfect for swirling into the ice cream. If you are not into goat cheese ice cream, just make the jam. Spread it on toast, top some vanilla ice cream with it, or eat it straight out of the jar. It's that good.

Wild Hibiscus and Strawberry Jam

by Tonda
Adapted from Love & Olive Oil's Strawberry Hibiscus Jam
Yields 3 half pint jars

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
3 Tablespoons Wild Hibiscus Flower Extract
1 teaspoon butter
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Wash, hull and quarter the strawberries. Add the strawberries to a medium-sized bowl and toss with 3/4 cup of sugar. Cover and chill overnight to bring out the strawberry juices. Pour the berries, scraping out all of the yummy syrup and sugar from the bottom of the bowl, into a medium sized saucepan and add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, Wild Hibiscus Flower Extract, and butter. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Turn the heat down to medium or medium-low to simmer until the jam reaches 220°F. Once the jam reaches 220°F, add the lemon juice and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Wild Hibiscus and Strawberry Swirl
by Tonda
Adapted from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop

8 ounces fresh goat cheese (I used the fresh Chèvre from The Pure Luck Farm)
6 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon Bourbon vanilla

Crumble the goat cheese into a bowl (that will eventually sit in an ice bath) and allow to come to room temperature. Add the egg yolks to a separate bowl and whisk. Prepare an ice bath. Set aside.

Warm the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. While stirring, warm until it just starts to bubble around the edges of the pan. Turn the heat down to low. Temper the eggs by slowly adding five tablespoons of the warmed milk/sugar mixture to the bowl. Whisk after each tablespoon addition. Slowly mix the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk and sugar. Turn the heat up to medium-low to medium heat and constantly stir the mixture until it starts to thicken, approximately 5-7 minutes. It will just start to coat the back of your spatula.

Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it through a mesh strainer (to catch any bits of egg that started to cook) into the goat cheese. Add the vanilla to the goat cheese/milk/egg mixture. Stir until the goat cheese completely melts and is nice and smooth. Place the bowl over and ice bath and continue to stir until the mixture is cool. Cover the mixture, making sure that the plastic wrap touches the surface of the custard to avoid a film from forming. Place it in the refrigerator and chill for 4 hours, up to overnight.

Churn the custard in your ice cream machine according to the manufacture's specifications. Once done, add a few tablespoons of the jam to the container that you will store the ice cream in, and then add a layer of the ice cream. Continue to alternate the jam and ice cream while swirling the jam into the layer of ice cream below. Freeze until firm.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Wild Hibiscus Risotto with Togarashi Seared Sea Scallops

Every holiday season is quite hectic. There are parties with large gatherings from Thanksgiving through the New Year. But as we wind down, there is always a light dinner with good friends to relax and enjoy cocktails along with tapas dishes. This year it will be hosted at my house. Everyone brings his or her favorite dish. There is always a nice variety of tapas dishes and this year I wanted to do something unique and different. When our latest sponsor sent us Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, I had a feeling I needed to sear some spicy scallops and make a risotto. Who doesn’t want sweet and spicy? I had fun adding some Togarashi to the seared scallops to give them a bit of a kick to complement the beautiful Wild Hibiscus Flower risotto. This dish is beautiful and full of flavor. It is easy to prepare and your guests will be delighted!

Wild Hibiscus Risotto with Togarashi Seared Sea Scallops
by Susan R-H
Serves 6
1 quart filtered water
2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
1 small sweet onion finely diced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon flaked kosher salt
5 Wild Hibiscus Flowers, finely chopped
A small amount of the Hibiscus syrup, if desired
6 large U-10 Sea Scallops, muscle removed, patted dry
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Togarashi seasoning (available in Asian markets)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Flaked sea salt

For the Risotto: Bring the water to a boil and reduce heat to allow the water to simmer. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and sauté until the onion is translucent, but not starting to brown. Approximately 3-5 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat with the oil and onion. After 2-3 minutes, the rice should start to “toast”. By that I mean the rice will cook slightly and become fragrant. Add the wine, white pepper and salt. Stir to completely coat the rice. Now it is time to add 1/2 cup of water at a time, and stir continuously until all of the water is absorbed. After about 15-18 minutes, taste the risotto for texture. You are looking for the risotto to have an al dente texture, just like pasta. Continue to add small amounts of water until you have this texture. As soon as the risotto reaches al dente, remove from the heat and gently stir in the hibiscus flowers, and if you like a little more sweetness, a bit of the Hibiscus syrup. Loosely cover the pan with foil and set aside.

For the Scallops: Mix the sesame seeds and Togarashi seasoning in a shallow bowl. Togarashi is a pretty spicy Japanese seasoning, and I would recommend tasting before you add too much to the sesame seeds. Heat the butter and olive oil a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Adding oil to butter prevents the butter from burning too quickly. Press one side of each scallop in the sesame seed mixture and place in the skillet seasoned-side down. Sear the scallops until they develop about a 1/4-inch “crust”. About 2-3 minutes. Turn the scallops over and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until the scallops are cooked to your desired temperature. I prefer my scallops to be medium at most. This will take another 3-5 minutes. Place the scallops on a small warm plate and season with flaked sea salt if desired.

To Serve: Divide the risotto between 6 appetizer plates. I selected a medium-sized ring mold to create a beautiful presentation. Top each serving of risotto with a seared scallop and garnish with a slice of a Wild Hibiscus Flower.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Wild Hibiscus Baklava

The Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup are a show stopper and tasty, too. This is a basic Baklava recipe with the addition of Wild Hibiscus Syrup and garnished with Wild Hibiscus Flowers. You can use these beauties to elevate just about any dish or beverage. I can’t wait to impress my friends with some Wild Hibiscus Flowers in champagne.

Wild Hibiscus Baklava
by Tracy Hersh

1/2 cup Wild Hibiscus Flowers syrup, flowers reserved for garnish
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 16-ounce package of pyhllo dough, thawed according to package directions
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted
2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
2 cups almonds, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Wild Hibiscus Flowers for garnish

Gently strain and separate the flowers from the syrup. Reserve the flowers for garnish. In a small saucepan, combine the syrup, honey, water, lemon juice and sugar. On medium high heat, stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and let boil for 5 minutes more without stirring. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Meanwhile, generously butter a 9 x 13 baking pan. Cut phyllo dough to fit the pan. I had to cut off about 1 inch because my dough was 9 x 14. Lay the phyllo dough on a flat clean surface and cover it with a damp towel. This keeps the phyllo from drying out. Remove 1 sheet of phyllo and place into the pan. Brush with some of the melted butter and repeat this process with 7 more sheets of phyllo, one at a time, brushing with butter. Be sure to keep the remaining phyllo under the damp towel at all times.

Mix the nuts with the cinnamon . Sprinkle about 3/4 cup of the nut mixture evenly over the 8 layers of phyllo. Now start layering phyllo brushed with butter again using 4 sheets of phyllo, then another 3/4 cup of the nuts. 4 more sheets phyllo and 3/4 cup nuts. 4 more sheets of phyllo brushed with butter, 3/4 cup nuts. 4 more sheets buttered phyllo and 3/4 cup nuts. Then the layer the top with 8 more sheets of buttered phyllo.

8 sheets phyllo, ¾ cup nuts
4 sheets phyllo, ¾ cup nuts
4 sheets phyllo, ¾ cup nuts
4 sheets phyllo, ¾ cup nuts
4 sheets phyllo, ¾ cup nuts
8 sheets phyllo

Before baking, gently cut the baklava into squares or diamonds. I cut mine into diamonds by cutting
2 1/4-inch strips lengthwise and then cutting diagonally across the pan to form diamonds. Bake in the oven 75 to 80 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cooled syrup evenly over the baklava. Allow to sit overnight or several hours to cool and absorb the syrup completely. Serve with wild hibiscus flowers.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Hibiscus/Ancho Carnita Tacos

What an exotic ingredient Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup is for this East Texas Girl to play with.
After checking it out, I realized that Hibiscus is really compatible with a lot of different flavors and that got me intrigued. We make carnitas a lot and I found out that ancho chile loves hibiscus. The only thing that I cannot stress enough is batch searing meat. You NEED to do this so that your meats don't steam each other. You want a good sear that will stand up to a couple of hours of braising. It takes patience, but you can do it!!!!

Hibiscus/Ancho Carnitas Tacos
by Traci
Adapted from Serious Eats No Waste Tacos de Carnitas with Salsa Verde Recipe

Hibiscus/Ancho Sauce:
2 dried ancho chiles, rehydrated (place into a bowl with hot water and let it stand for about an hour)
2 Wild Hibiscus Blooms, chopped, plus 1/2 teaspoon syrup

Chop the chile very fine and add the blooms. Combine and make almost into a paste and set aside.

3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds pork butt, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, divided
6 Tortillas (whichever you prefer)

Preheat a dutch oven (or a skillet with a lid) with the olive oil on medium heat.  In a bowl, combine pork with seasonings. Coat well. Place a couple of hunks of meat in the oil. Let them just hang out...please be patient. They will let you know when they need to be turned by letting loose from the pan easily. Sear on all sides. Place onto a plate to await the others. Continue cooking until all the pork is done.

When your last batch is done, deglaze your pan by adding 1/2 cup of your stock. Scrape up all those little cooked bits in your pan. They add nothing but goodness to your broth. Reduce the heat to low. Add your pork back into the bath and add the rest of the stock and the Hibiscus/Ancho mixture. Combine. You will cover and just simmer until fork tender. Approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When this is done to your liking, take a couple of forks and shred the pork. You are now ready to place into your preference of tortilla. I like to serve mine with a side of rice, Pico de Gallo and sliced avocado. But whatever you like will be fantastic.

You are going to love this combination of sweet and savory. Go to Wild Hibiscus to find out where you can get this great product. Don't forget to check out the other fantastic recipes that were made with this product and many others at 37 Cooks.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

White Chocolate & Wild Hibiscus Syrup Trifles

Typically when one thinks of English Trifle, they think of a heavy dessert loaded with custard, liquor, fruit and cake. As much as I LOVE the original version, I thought I'd lighten it up a bit to accent the unique flavor of the hibiscus syrup. The syrup almost tastes like a black raspberry - sweet but slightly tart. A beautiful combination. Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup are not only beautiful, but taste great.

I used pound cake to absorb the syrup and keep the white chocolate 'mousse' pure. I wanted definite layers to be seen in this dessert. Any seasonal fruit will be great with this. I chose peaches and blackberries being the end of summer and like the color and flavor contrasts.


White Chocolate & Wild Hibiscus Syrup Trifles
by Holly K of Holly's Table

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 large box of white chocolate instant pudding
2 cups whole milk
1 pound cake, store bought or prepare according to box instructions, cool completely
2 peaches, finely sliced
1 pint blackberries
1 jar Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup

In a large, chilled glass mixing bowl, whip the cream until firm peaks form. In another bowl, add pudding and cold milk and whisk until thoroughly blended. Place in refrigerator to set for one hour. After the pudding has set, create the mousse by folding in all but 1/2 cup of the whipped cream. Dice cake into 1/2 inch cubes.

Using wine glasses or individual dessert cups, layer 3 cubes of cake, drizzle with 1 teaspoon Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, top with 2 Tablespoons of of the mousse and a few berries and peaches. Repeat the process. Top each dessert with a dollop of the remaining whipped cream and a Wild Hibiscus Flower. Chill for at least one hour before serving. Serve chilled.

Makes 12 individual servings

NOTE: You can use whatever fruit is in season. I used blackberries to offset the sweetness of the Hibiscus syrup. Other great alternatives include: Strawberries, nectarines, raspberries, cherries, and kiwi.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Sweet and Sour Pork with Tangy Hibiscus Sauce

The delightfully delicate, yet exotic flavor of the hibiscus flower provides the perfect addition to this update of the classic Sweet and Sour Pork. Subtly sweet, these flowers mingle perfectly with the sharp tartness of rice vinegar and the rich umami of soy sauce. Add these lovely hibiscus flowers to your next Asian stir-fry for a beautiful, delicious highlight.

Sweet and Sour Pork with Tangy Hibiscus Sauce
by Gary Gee, My Cooking Blog
Adapted from The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller
Serves 4-6

2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sherry or cooking wine
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 pounds pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
Peanut oil, for frying

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water, divided use
2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
2 Tablespoons hibiscus syrup from jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup canned pineapple chunks, drained
4-6 drained Wild Hibiscus Flowers, cut in half, plus more for garnish, if desired

For the pork:
In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sherry, sugar, and white pepper until well-blended. Add pork cubes, tossing to coat evenly. Cover and marinate 30 minutes to an hour, turning meat several times.

In another large bowl, whisk eggs. Add flour, water and salt; whisk to combine. Set aside.

Heat one inch of oil in a dutch oven, or electric skillet to 350°F. Remove pork from marinade, dip into egg wash (do not coat too heavily), and carefully drop into hot oil. Do not overcrowd. Cook approximately 3 minutes, until golden, turning once. Remove pork from oil with a large spider or slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all pork has been fried once. Return oil to temperature, and fry the pork cubes a second time until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Drain on paper towels.

To make the sauce:
In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, vinegar, 1/2 cup water, soy sauce, and hibiscus syrup. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add bell pepper, and stir-fry until just glossy but still firm, about 30 seconds more. Add sugar/vinegar mixture. Stir until sugar is dissolved and sauce is heated through.

Mix cornstarch with remaining 1/2 cup water until completely dissolved. Stir into sauce and heat until thickened. Stir in pineapple chunks and hibiscus flowers and remove from heat.

To serve: 
Place fried pork in a large bowl. Add sauce to taste, and stir to coat well. Turn out onto serving platter. Garnish with additional hibiscus flowers, if desired. Serve at once.