Reminiscent of the jamaica agua frescas found throughout Mexico, this hibiscus water recipe from Desmond Tan and Kate Leary’s new book Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia pairs splendidly with rich Burmese curries, too. The recipe is infinitely adjustable; Mix batches by the pitcher, swap in pisco for tequila, or cut the recipe with sparkling water.
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
4½ cups water
¼ cup white sugar or grated palm sugar
Handful of cilantro sprigs
½ jalapeño, sliced thinly
½ cup fresh lime juice
3 Tbps. ginger juice (optional)
4 cups hibiscus water
12 oz. blanco tequila
¼ cup palm sugar syrup
To make the hibiscus water, rinse the hibiscus flowers and soak for 30 minutes to an hour to soften. Drain well, put in a pot, and cover with the water. Add the sugar and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the flavor of the hibiscus flowers has been extracted, about 10 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes and then strain. If the water tastes too intense for your liking, don’t worry; it will be diluted later. (Alternatively, you can make it more intense by letting it steep for 20 minutes before straining.) Refrigerate until completely chilled.
To make the punch, in a small bowl, muddle the cilantro with the jalapeño. Pour in the lime and ginger juice, swirl the bowl, then pour the contents into a pitcher. Pour in the hibiscus water, tequila, and sugar syrup and stir thoroughly. Chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
To serve, fill 8 glasses with ice. Give the punch a stir, pour into the glasses, and then top each glass off with sparkling water as desired.
Palm Sugar Syrup
In a small saucepan, combine 4 oz. of palm sugar (about 3 rounds) with ½ cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover, decrease the heat to low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the palm sugar with a spoon, until the sugar has nearly dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer until the sugar has dissolved completely, 1 or 2 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature. Simple syrup keeps refrigerated for at least 3 months, if not longer.
Cut 10 oz. of ginger (unpeeled if fine) into chunks and put in a food processor. Let the processor run for a minute or so to make sure all the ginger pieces are thoroughly pulverized. At this point, the ginger juice will still be in the pulp. To extract the juice from the pulp, line a bowl with a fine-mesh strainer. (If you don’t have a fine-mesh strainer, line the strainer or a colander with cheesecloth.) Scoop the pulp into the strainer. Using your hands, press the pulp to release the juice. Some sediment and pulp will go through the strainer, and that’s okay—you can re-strain later. Once all the pulp has been squeezed, discard it and re-strain the juice. Store in the refrigerator until using.
Reprinted with permission from Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia by Desmond Tan and Kate Leary, copyright 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press.
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