Quelites : Romeritos

also called romerillo, seepweed, seablite, quelite salado (salty quelite), inkweed, Mojave seablite, shrubby seepweed


Romeritos – “little rosemary” (Suaeda torreyana), is so named due to its superficial resemblance to Rosemary. It is an example of a wild plant that, due to its popularity, is now required in commercial quantities. Surveys performed by INEGI (1) have found that gardens in and around Mexico City are responsible for the greatest production of this plant. In one of the world’s true megalopolises they can still find space to grow a wild plant that harks back to their indigenous roots. Romerito is grown commercially in Puebla, Jalisco, Morelos, Tlaxcala and the State of Mexico with México City being the largest producer on a national level. In 2016 in the Tláhuac and Xochimilco delegations of México City and in the municipality of Valle de Chalco Solidaridad (in the State of México) a total of nearly 810 hectares of romeritos was planted producing nearly 6,500 tons of this quelite for human consumption.

  1. Instituto Nacional de Estadistica Geografia – Mexican Bureau of Statistics

Romerito is a semi succulent, halophyte (1) that can be found growing in the milpa. It usually inhabits alkaline soils or the salty soils of salt marshes and tidal wetlands. Suaeda torreyana is the name given to romerito (although Dondia sufrutencona is often used) and S.diffusa, S.edulis, S.linearis, S.mexicana, S.moquinii, S.nigra and S.pulvinata have also been identified as romerito in various sources.

  1. a salt-tolerant plant that grows in soil or waters of high salinity

Romerito is not to be confused with the Mediterranean herb rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) which is called Romero in México.

Romero (Rosemary) Rosmarinus officinalis

This quelite is very popular in dishes eaten at the religious festivals of Lent, Christmas Eve and Dia de los Muertos. It is commonly cooked with dried shrimp to make a dish also called romeritos.

The Mexica cooked it with the tiny eggs of a freshwater bug. The eggs of this freshwater insect are known as ahuautle, which literally means “the amaranth of the water”. Romerito is not eaten raw. It is usually sautéed, steamed or boiled and is often cooked in a mole sauce in a dish called revoltijo. Revoltijo is a meatless dish typically served at Christmas time and during Lent and often contains potato and nopales.

To use romerito it must first be cleaned carefully as it will often contain sand and grit wedged between the leaves. You then strip the softer, succulent leaves off the harder woody stems (much as you would with rosemary).

It has a sour/citrus/salty flavour.

Commercially packaged variety of Romeritos. Some come already mixed with a mole sauce.

Tortitas de Camaron con Romeritos


  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon plain flour
  • 125g ground shrimp/prawns (fresh or dried)
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1kg romerito, cleaned, washed and dried
  • 1½ cups olive oil
  • 150g mole – see recipe attached
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add yolks, flour and salt and continue beating for one minute. Fold in shrimp, breadcrumbs and romerito. Use only as much breadcrumbs as is needed to form a patty that is not so wet that it sticks to your hands.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Place patties gently into the oil and shallow fry until lightly browned. Do not overcrowd the pan. Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Set aside.
  3. In a separate pan, heat mole sauce until simmering
  4. Place cooked shrimp patties in mole and bring to the boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper or alternatively spoon some mole sauce onto a plate and arrange the patties on top, extra mole sauce can be drizzled over the top if desired

Quick Mole sauce for Romeritos


  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 3 pasilla chiles
  • 3 ancho chiles
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 5cm cinnamon quill


  • Clean chiles with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Dry roast them in a pan being careful not to burn them. Remove stems, seeds and veins and soak in enough hot water or chicken stock to just cover them. Soak until soft (about 15-20minutes)
  • In a pan, with a small amount of oil, separately fry the peanuts, almonds and raisins until lightly toasted.
  • Grind together the nuts, raisins and cinnamon. Add the soaked chiles and a little of the chicken stock and blend well. You want a thick paste.
  • Heat some oil in a pan and add the mole paste. Fry until it has darkened a couple of shades (about 10 minutes) and thin with hot chicken stock until it reaches the consistency you desire.
  • Strain the sauce and reserve.

See the table below for in depth analysis of the nutritional content of Romeritos (Suaeda spp.)

value per 100 g.

(Sources: 1.Contenido Nutritivo de Ciertos Tipicos Alimentos Mexicanos: 2.Antioxidants and Natural Compounds in Mexican Foods: 3. Alimentación Saludable: una alternativa para mejorar la salud)

Principle Nutrient Value
Energy 36Kcal
Carbohydrates 4.9g
Fibre 1g
Protein 3.6g
Total Fat 0.2g
Cholesterol 0mg
Niacin 0.3 mg
Riboflavin 0.08 mg
Thiamine 0.12 mg
Vitamin A 155.50 RE
Vitamin C 4.4 mg
Potassium 351.4 mg
Calcium 41 mg
Iron 2.5 mg
Phosphorus 18 mg

The oil content of some species of Suaeda (S.salsa and S.fructicosa in particular) produce a high quality edible oil that can be used for human consumption.

Fatty acid : Relative content (%)
Terephthalic acid : 0.82
11-Hexadecenoic acid : 0.45
Palmitoleic acid : 3.36
Palmitic acid : 6.59
Linoleic acid : 68.74
Oleic acid : 13.93
Stearic acid : 1.93
Linolenic acid : 4.17

Because of its high content of unsaturated fatty acids, this seed oil could be used medicinally to decrease blood sugar and blood pressure, to dilate blood vessels, to prevent heart disease and to develop general immunity.

This is not the only potential medicinal use for this species of plant. In Tunisia S.fruticosa is traditionally used to treat skin diseases (1). Oil from this same plant is a valuable source of antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer capacities particularly on skin exposed to solar radiation, and can protect cellular membranes against ROS (2). Extracts of S.monoica and S.maritima have shown antifungal activity against Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger and Candida albicans and antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (3). Traditionally, the leaf from Suaeda monoica is known to be used as a medicine for hepatitis and scientifically it is reported to be used as ointment for wounds and to possess antiviral activity, its ethanolic extract seems to possess hepatoprotective activity in rats (4).

  1. M. Rai, D. Acharya, Jose Luis Rios. : Ethnomedicinal plants : Revitalization of traditional knowledge of herbs : 1st ed. : 2011 : ISBN 978-1-57808-696-2
  2. Reactive Oxygen Species
  3. P. Dinesh, S. Arunprabu and T. Ramanathan : Phytoconstituents, antioxidant, antimicrobial and haemolytic activity of Suaeda maritima and Suaeda monoica, a natural halophyte : World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences : Volume 5, Issue 11, 1002-1013 : 2016 : ISSN 2278 – 4357
  4. Sundaram Ravikumar, Murugesan Gnanadesigan, Jebaraj Sesh Serebiah, Samuel Jacob Inbaneson : Hepatoprotective Effect of an Indian Salt Marsh Herb Suaeda Monoica Forsk. Ex. Gmel Against Concanavalin-A Induced Toxicity in Rats : Life Sciences and Medicine Research, Volume 2010: LSMR-2

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