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Cooking with Lily Flower or Golden Needles
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Q. Please tell me about dried lily flowers when used in soups. I got some at an Asian store and used them along with other ingredients in a chicken noodle soup. My digestive system has been having a fit since I ate some almost 3 days ago. Can that be the cause or might I possibly have a stomach flu?

A. Lily flowers — dried or fresh — are used in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cooking, and are known as golden needles. The plant is the hermerocallis fulva, which, we have been told, is known as the tawny day lily in this country.

The flower forms a long, thin bud, blooms for one day only, and withers to a long, thin shape again. The name golden needles stems from their fresh state; dried, the flowers are an unassuming brown. The flavor is described as "earthy" or "musky-sweet." The dried flowers are soaked in warm water for a half hour before use. They are often tied in knots to keep them from unfurling, or shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces to spread throughout a dish. While we sincerely sympathize with your current condition, we never give health-related advice. But we do give out recipes from time to time, and believe this one will give you a new reason to try lily flowers:

Stir-Fried Lily Buds with Pork
From the Encyclopedia of Asian Food (Canada, UK), by Charmaine Solomon.

Ingredients:

7 oz/200 g lily buds
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
3 Tbsp chopped coriander, including root
4 oz/125 g ground pork
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp roasted, crushed peanuts

Instructions:

Soak the lily buds in hot water for 30 minutes. Cut off and discard any hard ends of the lily buds. Tie the buds in a knot, or cut in half so they are bite-sized.

Heat peanut oil in a wok and fry the garlic and coriander root on low heat, stirring until fragrant. Add the pork, raise the heat and stir-fry until no longer pink. Add lily buds and continue to toss and fry for 2 minutes.

Add pepper, fish sauce, sugar, and a splash of water, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts and serve with steamed rice.

Yield: Serves 2

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