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Ask Zarela: Where can I get hoja santa?

Categories: Ask Zarela,Ingredients
Image courtesy  of www.blogspot.com

Image courtesy of www.blogspot.com

Question: Hi, I love your books!  Do you know anywhere to order Hoja Santa online? Answer: Today I did a demonstration at the Gourmet Latino Festical  on how to make mole verde, an herb-based sauce redolent of hoja santa, and I have great news to tell  New Yorkers.  Local farmers are now growing and selling  it at the Green Market along with other herbs such as papaloquelite, a strong flavored herb that is great in salads, pipicha that you can use instead of cilantro if you happen to be one of those people that dislike the popular herb, epazote that is the traditional herb to use when cooking  mushrooms, squash blossoms and perfect in beans (it reduces the socially embarrassing consequence of eating beans).  Tomorrow I will post the address and booth number of the farmers. Generation Farms1109 North McKinney,Rice, Texas 75155 telephone 903-326-4263; fax: 903-326-6511 www.generationfarms.com I had written the following post on the subject but it bears repeatimg: Hoja Santa.  I have been trying to bring true Mexican flavors to the U.S. for almost fifteen years and have had many ups and downs with crucial ingredients.  At times this essential herb (Piper auritum and P. sanctum) has been difficult to find in the fresh rather than dried state.  Now its importance is being recognized and the fresh herb is much more available. (See Resources. ) It is as preferable to the dried variety as fresh basil is to dried basil. The heart-shaped fresh leaves are a beautiful dark green and have a vivid herbal flavor that reminds me a little of anise, though hoja santa is more complex.  The leaves are usually between 6 to 8 inches long, big enough to hold small wrapped packets enclosing pieces of food.  But in addition to being used as wrappers these are often puréed with other ingredients in sauces.  The brittle dried leaves can be used for the latter purpose but are too fragile for wrappers. Dried hoja santa can be found in most Latin American groceries.  The usual packet, which is 1/8-ounce and contains about 6 dried leaves (often in a fairly crumbled state), is equivalent to about  2 large (8-inch) fresh leaves. If unable to obtain either fresh or dried hoja santa, you can make a crude substitute from Anise Tea, using 1/2 cup of tea to replace 3 – 4 large fresh leaves and substituting the tea for part of any liquid called for in the recipe.  I have to say that this should be only a last resort. I’ve taken the liberty of using two photos from two excellent sources that I urge to visit:  www.thehumanflowerproject.com and www.blogspot.com.  I sent them trackbacks in case they have an objection FLORIDA: Burns Farms 1345 Bay Lake Loop, Groveland, FL 34736 telephone 352- 429-4048 Frozen huitlacoche year-round and fresh hoja santa in season. Fresh epazote and hoja santa. (1/2-pound minimum, but 1/4-pound if you order several herbs).