#SauceSpotlight: Chile Negro & Hibiscus

This week we’re spotlighting the second oldest SALSAOLOGY sauce flavor: Chile Negro & Hibiscus. Inspired by the flavors and ingredients of Zacatecas, Mexico this rich and zesty salsa flavor is so versatile-- from flatbreads to soups to even Micheladas! To keep the National Sauce Month celebration going, we’re sharing a little history on the region of inspiration and a closer look at some of this sauce flavor’s key ingredients.

Where is Zacatecas, Mexico?


Located in north-central Mexico, Zacatecas is the 25th most populous state and the eight largest of the country. The state lies mainly within the dry Mexican Plateau and is bordered by the Sierra Madre Occidental in the west and the Sierra Madre Oriental in the east. The mountain regions of the state are home to forests, while the valleys and deserts contain maguey, agave, cactus, and mesquite.

With the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century, came the discovery of the state’s silver abundance, turning Zacatecas into a center for silver mining for many years. Today the state is known to be an agricultural center for grains and sugar cane, as well as big producer of beverages including: rum, mescal, and pulque. The region also ranks first in the country for the production of beans, chiles, and nopales.

Tourism also plays a large role of the region’s economy, with many people drawn to its history, culture, architecture, and of course: food. Zacatecas is very known for its asado de boda, birria de chivo (a goat stew), and a traditional mole that has hints of orange. The region also puts its own twist on classic Mexican dishes such as: gorditas, tortas, and menudo.

What is Hibiscus?

Hibiscus, known as Jamaica in Spanish, is a flower that has become a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Known for its vibrant colors and large petals, the Hibiscus plant has over 100 species and can be found growing in warm and tropical regions throughout the world.

Although Hibiscus flowers are most commonly used dried to brew into herbal teas, they can also be found in sauces, sautées, and even in desserts! One of the most popular uses of hibiscus flowers in Mexico is to make agua fresca and paletas.

Not only does Hibiscus flower taste good, but it’s good for you. This flower is packed with antioxidants and has been linked to speeding up one’s metabolism and lowering blood pressure.

What are Chiles Negro?

Chile Negro, also known as the Pasilla Chile, is the dried version of the Chilaca chile. This long and narrow chile, with a brownish-purple wrinkly exterior, is moderately spicy but packs an aromtaic and deep rich flavor with earthy undertones. Native to central Mexico, chile negro is is commonly used in soups, stews, salsas, marinades, and moles.

Fun Fact: Pasilla means “little raisin” in spanish. This name is a reference to the chile’s wrinkly brown-purple exterior that gives it a raisin-like appearance.

How can I use this sauce flavor?

A balance of tart, zesty and savory flavors, makes this sauce perfect for braising, marinating, or simmering to top of your favorite protein or vegetable. Whether you use it as a sauce base for your flatbread or as a spread for your spinach and mushroom quesadillas, this flavor is a great ingredient to keep on hand at all times. Here are a few ways we love to incorporate Chile Negro & Hibiscus into some of our favorite dishes:  

Brussels Sprouts & Goat Cheese Flatbread

Mushroom & Spinach Quesadillas

Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

Hibiscus Michelada

For more recipes click HERE.

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