Monday, April 13, 2009

Kam-jam: eat like an elf! (金針)

ating flowers seems like an elves' and fairies' pastime. However, there are millions of regular humans in East Asia who do that at least once in a while. Well, the Chinese do not sustain on petals and pollen, but on occasion do consume dried daylily (or tiger lily) buds (金針).

They go by kam-jam or golden needles in Chinese grocery stores but I really like their French name: fleurs de lys séchés. I imagine French royalists (all 14 of them) cringing when somebody boils their totem flower with sea brim and ginger.

They - dried daylilies, but, perhaps,French royalists too - need to be reconstituted
in cold water before consumption. Normally half an hour is enough. The water comes out sour-ish and not very pleasantly tasting so I just dump it. The buds themselves taste quite like asparagus without its characteristic funk. I use kam-jam in mapo-tofu, seafood noodles and mushroom noodles. There is also a delicious fish soup recipe where daylily buds feature prominently.

They can be consumed fresh too. My Mom picks them just before they blossom out and stuffs them with something reminiscent of a very light celery-flavoured chicken salad. I will publish recipe once I talk her into divulging it.

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