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Romerito, or Seepweed, is a leafy herb that looks somewhat like a softer, non-woody version of rosemary. The long, skinny leaves look similar to the thin needles of the rosemary plant, growing like feathers along a central stem. The small, blade-shaped leaves are pale green and about an inch in length. Romerito has a bit of a sour, citrus-like taste.
Seepweed, or Romerito, is available in the late fall and early winter months.
Romerito, or “little rosemary,” is also known as Seepweed, an evergreen shrub botanically classified as Suaeda mexicana. The herb grows wild throughout Mexico, and was cultivated as part of the “milpa system” in coastal central and south Mexico dating back to pre-Colombian times. Romerito is a quelite, which is a blanket term for any tender, wild, Mexican green with leaves smaller than spinach or chard.
Seepweed is rich in fiber and minerals like calcium, iron and potassium. The leafy greens are high in vitamins A and C, and B2, and contain essential amino acids and proteins. Romeritos also contain important phytonutrients that contain anti-oxidants that help prevent cell breakdown and protect our DNA from any damage. The leaves also help boost the metabolism.
Romerito is always cooked and almost never eaten raw. It is most often used in traditional holiday dishes, mixed with nopales (cactus), potatoes, mole sauce. Sautee Romerito and add to savory cakes or rice and bean dishes. Romerito can be used similarly to chard or spinach in egg dishes or other savory applications. Romerito will keep in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, for up to one week.
Romerito is used in a traditional Mexican dish served around Christmas and the New Year, often called “romeritos.” The dish is often referred to as a ‘jumble’ which is a mixture of Romerito, nopales, shrimp and potatoes, and served with mole sauce. The leafy green is also used in dishes around Lent, when meat is not often eaten and the nutritional value of Romerito is important to one’s diet.
Romerito is typically found growing in the wild, near wetlands or marshes. Often, the seeds are collected and planted in home gardens or pots for use at home. Romerito is traditionally grown in the “milpa cycle” of agriculture, a practice that dates back to Mayan times around the Yucatan peninsula and in southern Mexico. During this time, prior to the European conquest, the native people lived on a primarily vegetarian diet. In the milpa system, crops like chiles, corn, squash, and beans are grown in rotation with grasses, shrubs or other vegetation. Romerito is one of those rotation crops helping to maintain and sustain this type of ancient farming. Today, Seepweed is predominantly cultivated around Mexico City, and still grows wild in other areas such as the border region between Texas and Mexico. The leafy herb can be found in farmer’s markets just over the Mexican border from the United States.
Recipes that include Romerito (Seepweed). One is easiest, three is harder.
|Saveur||Romeritos with Shrimp Cake|
|Maine Morsels||Samphire, Seepweed and Seaside Salad|
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