Hoja Santa is a large leaf used in Mexican cuisine. Hoja santa is an ingredient often found in moles and other Mexican recipes. The unique licorice-like flavor of the leaf provides nuance to sauces like Mole Verde. Also, the chopped leaf is added to season soups and beans. In addition, because of it’s broad size, the whole leaf is used to wrap tamales.
The wide leaves are found on plants that grow in the jungles of Mexico. The herb can be easily found in markets in Chiapas and Oaxaca. When sold at the market, the leaves are often stacked then rolled together like a cigar. They may be harder to find in Mexico City, but if you ask, you can usually find them.
Other terms for hoja santa:
- Hierba Santa / Yerba Santa
- Momo / Mumu
- Root Beer Plant
- Mexican Pepperleaf
Where to find it
Finding the large, fresh leaves can be difficult. However, you can get the flavor and buy dried hoja santa. You can also substitute fennel for a similar flavor. Another option is to plant some seeds in your garden and you’ll always have the flavor at your fingertips.