Roselle is the new blackJanuary 29th, 2011 | Posted by in Off topic
Our upcoming menus are poised on featuring as much locally grown ingredients as possible and Roselle is going to be the new black!
Back home, we have hibiscus and use it as an infusion, iced tea and eventually to flavor poaching liquid for fruits or sorbet. In Hong Kong, I had a very pleasant encounter with Roselle. A close cousin of the hibiscus, but growing under different latitudes than the later. The last time we did our baking outing in Fan Ling, Teresa from eFarm opened a pot of Roselle jam to taste with our white rosemary batard. It was simple, authentic and with a very clean and crisp flavor. It definitely etched my taste buds.
After a quick note to Teresa, samples were on our pastry bench shortly after. She brought us dried flowers, preserved Roselle (obtained by submerging the fresh blossoms in sugar for a certain period of time, resulting in soft, but with a sort of crunchy texture – apparently a popular and healthy alternative to regular snacks here in Hong Kong – which I tend to agree with, very pleasant actually…) and Roselle jam, made in a traditional method with a little touch of honey.
The Roselle plants are seeded every year instead of keeping it growing into bushes. The reason, explains Teresa, is that young plants give much more flowers. The planting happens in April and around October to December, it’s the harvesting season here in Hong Kong. Once the harvest is done, flowers are processed into jams and preserve – the leftover is being dried.
While thinking about our new afternoon tea, I couldn’t contradict the popularity of macaron, yet, in themselves, they are rather bland pastries. The challenge was to have them interesting in flavor and not so sweet.
Spot on: Roselle is the new black!
The sweetness of the delicate almond shells were the perfect fit to Roselle with its floral acidity and mellow tone. I actually used a base of raspberry jam to balance all the flavors and added LOTS of chopped chunks of preserved Roselle. Very nice indeed! And to me, it’s a clear winner in desserts compared to rose flowers, the later making you feel like you drank a whole bottle of L’Occitane shampoo if badly measured in your recipe.
I am convinced we will find plenty of use for Roselle in our pastries and cakes. As a matter of fact, Roselle jam is going to be served along with pan seared foie gras in an upcoming VIP banquet very soon! :)