Thursday, April 23, 2015

Eating Daylilies

The pea- to almond-sized swellings on the root ends can be eaten fresh like jicama or boiled, but the roots contain some toxins so it is recommended that they be eaten in moderation.

he young spring shoots can be eaten like green onions. However, even though the daylily is related to the onion, the flavor isn’t as interesting as onions or spring garlic.
Daylily flowers taste like butter lettuce. Some are sweeter than others so taste before using. You can sprinkle the petals in a salad, stuff and sauté the flowers like squash blossoms, or use the flower as a container for spreads, guacamole or sour cream. Be sure to remove the pistil and stamens before using.
I’ve saved the best for last… the buds. Choose buds that are just about to open. I sautéed a handful of buds in a mixture of olive oil and butter, then seasoned them with salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious! Phil told me that an Asian market contacted him about 10 years ago wanting to buy 2,000 kilos of daylily buds shipped fresh daily. That’s how popular the buds are in Asian cuisine.
Asian markets sell the dried buds as a vegetable ingredient and a thickening agent (you can use newly wilted flowers to thicken soups but check inside for bees before you pick the flowers). Have you eaten lily buds without knowing it? Chinese restaurants in the U.S. hesitate to use daylily buds in their dishes because a few customers might experience gastric distress or have an unexpected allergic reaction to them.If you have a really productive plant, you can pickle both the fresh buds and the newly formed seed capsules.

You can also scrub and slice the smaller, firm tubers (the larger, older, flaccid ones are terrible), and sauté them in olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper, or add to soups, stews or casseroles. They taste a little like nutty turnips. Some people love the tubers, but they are small and labor-intensive to clean, so I rarely prepare them.

Pan Seared Daylilies

*please see my notes below before eating any parts of a daylily
2 handfuls of green and still tight daylily buds
1 tablespoon canola oil
It’s very easy to do. First rinse the daylily buds well. Its important that they are young buds and aren’t showing much orange yet. For taste, for texture, but also to help you be assured they’re clean on the inside and not full of bugs. I’ve never had a problem with bugs though; that’s just me being cautious.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the buds to the hot oil. Leave them in the pan for about 5 minutes, or until the sides are very browned.
Essentially you’re searing or ‘pan frying’ them. I like to do it this way because it leaves the buds with a solid texture. If you were to cook them longer at a lower temperature, they would become somewhat mushy.

Home fries with lily tubers (serves 2)

3/4 cup lily tubers, cleaned and par-boiled
1 medium potato, cooked
1/2 onion
olive oil, herbs and spices to taste.
Chop onion fine.  Start  sauteeing it in the olive oil.  Chop the cooked potato and add, once the onions start to soften.  Add lily tubers a few minutes later.  Sprinkle paprika and other herbs/spices that you like for your homefries (garlic powder?  coriander?).  When potatoes have crisped on a few sides, it is time to serve your fries.
As I mentioned in the intro to this post, above, the lily tubers have a hint of carrot, and my friend John thought they tasted a little of new potatoes.  Otherwise, they are starchy, mild, bland, and a little more slippery than a potato.  But interesting.

Daylily Root Cake     

            makes one bundt pan

2 c. shredded daylily tubers
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 c. plus 2 Tbsp oil
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. honey

for the icing:
1 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk or water
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease and lightly flour a bundt pan.
2. Toss the shredded tubers and the lemon juice together.
3. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon into the bowl of a mixer.
4. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, maple syrup, and honey.
5. Using the paddle, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients with the mixer running at low speed. Scrape down the sides, and mix at medium speed for 30 seconds. Fold in the shredded tubers.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 30-38 minutes, until golden and firm. Cool about 10 minutes, and invert the bundt pan onto a serving plate. Cool the cake completely.
7. To make the icing, whisk the milk or water and vanilla into the powdered sugar. Drizzle over the cake and serve.

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