Hoja Santa or Hierba Santa

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Hoja Santa or Hierba Santa

The name Hoja Santa translates to “sacred leaf.” The leaves of the hoja santa plant are heart-shaped with a thick velvety texture. These leaves can grow up to a foot and sometimes more. I find them to be truly beautiful. Though hoja santa is found throughout Mexico, it is mostly used in the south.
Mexican cooks use hoja santa judiciously not only because of it’s strong, unique, unexpected taste, but also because too much of it is not good for you, just like epazote.

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Hoja Santa is used fresh and dried in many different ways in Mexican cooking, from tamales to pozoles to moles to soups. It is also wrapped around meat, seafood and around tamales as an edible wrapper, keeping what’s inside moist but also infusing the filling with its peculiar flavor.

Getting back to it’s flavor: it’s really hard to describe…aromatic, fragrant with a hint of eucalyptus and a whisper of mint. Some people find it similar in taste to anise. I also find a slight echo of black peppercorn and allspice. The only way for you to find out is to give it a try.
  • Angelica

    I just watched a cook show where thechef used hoja santa in chimichurri sauce. Where can a buy this plant? I live in Miami. Thank you.

    • Pati

      Go to your nearest Latino or international grocery store, which sells fresh produce and ask for it, if they don´t carry it, request it, they should be able to get it for you…

  • Jill Sarina

    I just read a recipe for a Margarita that uses this plant. I had never heard of it before.

    • Pati

      It is a fascinating and unique herb…

  • Mark

    Hello,
    I just searched around Boise Idaho for hoja santa and could not find it. Could you please publish a source to buy this over the internet?
    Regards

    • Pati

      Hola Mark, I’m sorry I don’t have a good internet source for hoja santa. Try your local Latino or international markets – and if they don’t have it, ask them to carry it.

  • Mark

    Pati, thanks for the reply. I did check at he local Latino markets as well as other specialty stores with no luck. Is there a substitute I could use? Regards, Mark

  • hi i am going to try and make mole estilo oaxacano and i can not find the fresh kind here so i bought the dried hierba santa is that ok ?

    • Pati

      Yes, you can substitute the dried hierba santa!

  • Cathy

    I have read that fennel fronds can be used as a good substitute

    • Pati

      Sounds like a great idea… similar taste!