Edible Flowers In Vietnamese Dishes
Summertime is when most flowers are fully bloomed all over the crop fields in Vietnam countryside, and many among those are edible. Read on to learn how all kinds of beautiful flowers can turn into delicious dishes.
Squash Blossoms (Bông Bí)
Bloomed in summer with a bright golden color, squash blossoms are not only attractive but also good to eat. The plants produce both male and female flowers. Therefore, in order to make the most of the harvest, farmers pick the male blossoms and preserve the female ones for bearing fruit. The blossoms are carefully harvested before dawn, when they are still in bud forms, and sold in bundles at the marketplace. The dishes that can be made using these delicate, beautiful flowers are not complicated, but they do require great care, in order to maintain their glorious color and form.
Vietnamese Shrimp Stuffed Deep Fried Squash Blossoms (“Bông bí nhồi tôm chiên” or “Chả bông bí”) is a very popular dish among Vietnamese people, especially those who inhabit the Southern regions of Vietnam and Hue. When deep-fried in hot oil, the flowers become crispy. They are then combined with the minced, seasoned fresh shrimp insides, to create a super-delicious taste. This dish can be eaten as an appetizer or as a main course.
Another dish that can be made using this wonderful flower is Stir-fired Squash Blossoms With Beef (Thịt Bò Xào Bông Bí). The soft texture and the sweetness of the flowers balance the toughness and saltiness of the beef out, enhancing its flavor. Because of the squash flowers’ juiciness and lovely aroma, this course will taste best when tried during the hot weather season. Needless to say, squash blossoms are more than a schnazzy garnish!
Tonkin Jasmine Flowers (Bông Thiên Lý)
Tonkin jasmine or tonkin creeper flowers can be found all around Vietnam. They are called “bông thiên lý”, “hoa thiên lý” or “dạ lý hương”, because they bloom at night and smell like Ylang Ylang flowers. Besides being used in traditional medicine, tonkin jasmine flowers are also a great ingredient for cooking.
One delicious dish with tonkin jasmine flowers, which is a kind of a staple in Vietnamese meals, is Stir-fried Tonkin Jasmine Flowers and Shrimp (“Tôm xào bông thiên lý”). When cooked, the flowers turn bright green and start tasting like green peas, with a very slight scent of perfume. This dish is often eaten as a side vegetarian dish.
Another good choice for summer is Tonkin Jasmine And Fish Sour Soup (Canh chua cá nấu bông thiên lý). Unlike other sour soups with tamarind, this soup’s sour taste comes from tomatoes, which bring a brilliant red color to the broth, turning it into a wonderfully colored, contrasting background against the bright green color of the tonkin jasmine and the white color of the fish.
If you prefer milder soups, you might love Freshwater Crab And Tonkin Jasmine Soup (Canh cua đồng nấu bông thiên lý). It has a typical countryside taste; the pure look and mild flavor of the soup can be combined with other salty stewed dishes for a more satisfying dish. This soup is not only fresh and delicious, but it can also help reduce your anxiety levels, and help you sleep better, when frequently consumed.
Banana Blossoms (Hoa chuối)
Banana Blossoms can be easily found in almost every part of Vietnam’s countryside,and they are normally eaten as a side dish, accompanying many Vietnamese noodle recipes. They can be cooked or sliced into long strings, and then dipped into hot soup.
Banana Blossoms Salad (“Nộm hoa chuối” or “Gỏi hoa chuối”) is one of the greatest salads to have in the summer. The flower’s soft and crunchy texture blends perfectly with other herbs on a sweet-and-sour base of lemon juice, which creates a cool, luscious and delightful taste. The crushed fried peanut topping adds a greasy note to the salad, as it harmonizes all of the ingredients, creating an absolutely delicious and fresh summer veggie dish.
Banana Blossoms And Fish Sour Soup (Canh chua cá nấu hoa chuối) is eaten by many Vietnamese people in the country’s Central Areas. The sourness of the soup combines with the bitterness of the banana flowers and the chewyness of the fish, creating a unique, exquisite flavor.
Banana Blossoms are also used in medicine, to relieve heart and stomach symptoms, to reduce anxiety or to help nourish mothers.
Sesbania Sesban Flowers (Bông Điên Điển)
Due to the country’s interlacing river system, during the flooding season in Southern Vietnam there is almost nothing to eat, since crops and fields get submerged in water. But that’s when the brilliant golden color of sesbania sesban flowers blossoms along the winding channels, river banks and small islets. Naturally beautiful and safe to eat, sesbania sesban flowers are also called “hoa cứu đói” (flowers that help people against starving) by Vietnamese people, because they can be cooked into many delectable dishes during the season when food is rare.
Sesbania Sesban And Mud Carps Sour Soup (Canh Chua Cá Linh Bông Điên Điển) is one of the most typical dishes eaten during the flooding season downstream in the Mekong Delta. It’s a delicious combination of flavors; the sweet-and-sour broth is enhanced by the slight bitterness of the golden flowers. The soft texture of fresh fish is perfectly complemented by the chewyness of the sesbania sesban flowers. Many other garden herbs add a distinctive smell to the soup. This soup can also be served as a hot pot dish, which makes eating it even more enjoyable.
Another nice fresh dish made with this wonderful flower is Sesbania Sesban Flowers Salad With Shrimp And Pork (Gỏi Bông Điên Điển). The salad tastes a bit sour, a bit sweet and a bit bitter, and it has a pleasantly crisp texture.
Sesbania Grandiflora Flowers (Bông So Đũa)
Sesbania Grandiflora blossoms are also some of the most amazing flooding season flowers. They come in two color variations, both of which are less bitter than sesbania sesban flowers, have a crisp texture when eaten raw in salty sweet salad and get a bit more chewy when cooked, when used as ingredients in sour soups with freshwater fish.
Chives Flowers (Bông Hẹ)
Only the younger, top parts of the chives flowers are used; their sweet and delicate, aromatic fragrance can add a note of elegance to any dish.
Daylily (Bông Kim Châm)
The daylily blossom is one of the most beautiful amongst all of the edible summer flowers.
It tastes like a cross between asparagus and green peas when sauteed in a little garlic and vegetable oil.
Mild and sweet, daylily shrimp soup helps cool down your body’s temperature during hot summer days.
Artichoke Flowers (Hoa atisô)
Artichoke, which is essentially the bud of a giant flower, is a versatile and delicious vegetable. It can be stewed with chicken or pork for a tasty soup, or stir-fried with clams for a different taste.
Besides their delicious taste, artichokes can also help reduce cholesterol levels, as well as control diabetes and prevent cancer.