Since then, Chef Bryan has managed restaurants in Denver, the Napa Valley, Aspen, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Panama City—and now downtown Sioux Falls where his wife is from, and where he runs Harvester Kitchen by Bryan.
“I love the tartness of hibiscus,” says Chef Bryan. “That’s a favorite flavor profile of mine, and I appreciate how the hibiscus adds a tart enhancement to the jam that contains brown sugar, an herbal touch that cuts through the sweetness of the sugar. It also balances out the fattiness of the ribs, too, brightening it up with its acidity.”
The baby back rib dish also includes shallots in its brining liquid and butternut squash foam on top, layered on the very top with strips of cut red and green hibiscus and chili peppers as a garnish.
“I rotate this dish,” says Chef Bryan, “in and out of my tasting menu.”
Experimenting with Fresh Hibiscus Leaves
In December 2021, hibiscus was chosen as the flavor of the year for 2022 by The New York Times because of its “hue and tart, earthy flavor” that it adds to “everything from cocktails and sodas to crudos and yogurt.”
Interestingly enough, a Forbes writer tried to decide whether hibiscus or sorrel leaves (another favorite of Chef Bryan) deserves all of this attention. (We tried to get Farmer Lee Jones to choose between the two, but he loves them both too much to get involved.)
Mashed. meanwhile, likes hibiscus in a glass, an outstanding flavor for non-alcohol drinks, perfect for “brightly colored and unique teas and cocktails.” The article references Life of Cha. s fan of the versatility of hibiscus tea, a drink that can taste “sweeter, tarter, or spicier as varied across Chinese, African, Caribbean, or European styles. Preferences for sipping on hibiscus drinks hot or cold can also vary.”
For now, we’ll focus on hibiscus and how it adds unexpected tart touches to creative dishes and drinks alike: salads, stir fries, slaws, teas, and more. Plus, they add beautiful color and eye-catching shapes to your plate, much like Japanese maple leaves when uncut. It’s ideal for autumn and winter dishes, a bit startling but oh-so-delicious in plates and glasses alike..