Flower Delicacies in Yunnan
Nicknamed "kingdom of plants", Yunnan is a place where flowers are seen blooming all the year around. Flowers can be cooked is one of the well-known "18 oddities of Yunnan". People in Yunnan have incorporated flowers into their culinary arts.
1- Banana Flowers
With peculiar medicinal value, banana flowers taste somewhat sweet. Banana flowers must be deprived of the bitterness by scalding in hot water and cooled down in cold water. Minorities such as Dai, Jingpo and Hani etc like eating banana flowers.
2- Sophora Davidii Flowers
Sophora davidii (Ku Ci Hua) can be found in most places of Yunnan. Sophora davidii can be cooked with eggs and bacon after being scalded to get rid of the bitterness.
3- Kapok Flowers
Kapok flower is called "Pan Zhi Hua" in Chinese. In each March, you can find masses of blooming kapok flowers in places including Jinghong (Xishuangbanna), Pu'er (Simao), Nujiang etc. Locals in these areas like to pick kapok flowers and dry them for cooking. "Pork stewed with kapok flowers" is a delicious delicacy.
Fresh chrysanthemum petals are normally prepared with “Cross-bridge Rice Noodles” which tastes fragrant and refreshing.
5- Birchleaf Pear Blossoms
Birch-leaf pear is deemed the “mother tree” of normal pear which has to be grafted to bear fruits. Birch-leaf pear is kind of shrub growing in the wild. One can find it with easily in Yunnan. People in Yunnan have got used to eating the blossoms of birch-leaf pears. Indeed, it is truly a delicacy to entertain guest in springtime. The blossom tastes bitter, so it must be scalded with boiling water for cooking. It can be fried, made soup or cold dish with vinegar and soy sauce.
6- White Azaleas
Dali is known for white azaleas that bloom in spring and summer all over the mountains. The Bai People usually pick white azaleas to cook. Especially in the countryside, farmers conveniently take them home when working in mountains. Neither its stamen nor the pistil can be eaten. Boil the fresh white azaleas for several minutes. And then immerse them in cool water for three to five days to remove toxins and bitter taste. The processed white azaleas can be stored in refrigerator. It can be prepared by deep-frying and boiling etc. “Deep fried azalea” is quite crispy and stands out as another household delicacy of the Bai minority in Dali.
7- Pumpkin Flowers
Pumpkin flowers can be prepared by frying (sauting). In Heqing area of Dali, there is another peculiar way for preparing pumpkin flowers. Locals make pies from fennels, bean sprouts and steamed rice etc. The pies are usually wrapped in pumpkin flowers to be deep fried. As a delicacy for vegetarians, this dish is locally nicknamed “sausage of Buddhist monks” and is normally prepared during the Spirit Festival on lunar July 14th.
8- Parochetus Communis
It blooms in April and May. It can be cooked with eggs.
9- Dasheen Flower
Neither its stamen nor the pistil can be eaten. Peel off the thin skin off its stem. And cut the stem into segments of 4 to 5 centimeters. You’d better wear a pair of gloves when you process it, otherwise your hands will be dyed dark. First put Chinese red pepper and garlic into hot oil to fry. And then, add in sliced hams and fry. After that, add in the dasheen flowers, cooking wine, vinegar, light soy sauce, fermented soya beans, and moderate water to stew them for a while. When the flowers become very soft, add more garlic in and turn to high heat until the sauce is absorbed. Dish up and serve now. The flower can also be cooked with eggplant in the same way. Put plenty of vinegar and garlic in is the knack of making the dish delicious.
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