Flower cuisines have existed for 2,000 years in China. The petals of colorful and fragrant flowers are used to cook flower cuisines. By candying, salting, boiling, sautéing, making desserts or soup, flower cuisines not only taste crispy, fragrant and bland, but also are very nutritious. Moreover, with petals ornamented, the cuisines can is sensory pleasure. Looking at a variety of flower cuisines can make one feel as if they have been transported to a highly condensed spring garden of various colors and flavors.
Today’s research shows flowers are very rich in nutrition, including protein, fat, amino acid, vitamins, mineral substances, enzyme, hormone and so on. When people eat flowers, they will ingest certain amount of pollen which can improve metastasis, regulate the nerve system and enhance immunity and cardiac functions. Thus flower cuisines are helpful for keeping young and healthy.
History of Flower Cuisines
According to the Spring and Autumn Annals, a minister in the Shang Dynasty (16th century-11th century BC)), was good at cooking delicious food with blossoms. In the pre-Qin period, flowers that were used to make cuisines were mainly chrysanthemum and orchid. Various recipes and books about cooking flower cuisines became popular in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
After the Tang Dynasty (618-907), some writers regarded eating flowers as an elegant way to enjoy life. It is said Wu Zetian, the only female monarch, visited gardens to enjoy flowers on February every year. During that period of time, she ordered maids to pick a variety of flowers to make flower cakes for ministers. In addition, Wu Zetian especially loved to eat cookies made of piney flowers.
In the Qing Dynasty, Empress Cixi often ate flowers to keep healthy and improve her appearance. When lotuses were in full bloom, once the sun rose, Cixi would order maids to pick complete and bright lotuses. Then the maids immersed the lotus petals into a starch paste mixed with eggs and chicken soup and fried the paste. Through the whole process, golden and crispy desserts were made.
Different Flowers and Different Functions
Peony can be called the most beautiful surpassing any other flower. Cuisines made of peony not only taste delicious and tender, but do a lot to help one’s health. Considering the perspective of both beauty and health care, peony fully deserves the title of “king of flowers”.
Sweet roses not only symbolize love, but also help with health in terms of improving blood circulation and maintaining beauty. Roses can be used to make tea, drinks or desserts. Rose and lily porridge, beef sautéed with roses and rose and mushroom soup are very popular rose cuisines.
Peach blossoms are very charming and regarded as a kind of flower used for beautifying. Peach blossoms contain various vitamins and trace elements which can improve blood circulation and moisturizing the skin.
Fragrant jasmine can help people refresh. Fresh jasmine coated with crispy paste can be fried to make a cuisine. Cuisines made of jasmine will increase one’s appetite.
In most cases osmanthus flowers are candied to make a cuisine. Bay-oil also has a delicate smell, which is made by frying osmanthus flowers. The most common cuisine is osmanthus dumplings. There are other cuisines made of asmanthus flowers such as asmanthus duck and asmanthus sugar chestnut.
Lotus can be used to make soup or one may put food on lotus to be steamed, thus the food will smell fragrant. In addition, lotus white tender chicken and stew of lotus are two famous lotus cuisines.
Lily has a fresh and elegant smell. It is good for nourishing the lungs, stopping coughing and soothing the nerves. It can be sautéed and added to soup. Famous lily cuisines include lily sautéed with eggs, egg yolk soup with lily and lily and yam porridge.
Hibiscus is very holy and beautiful. It works well for heat-clearing and detoxifying. Hibiscus can be cooked together with sea cucumber. Hibiscus stewed with meat, hibiscus and honey drink and hibiscus stewed with rock candy are very popular flower cuisines.
Chrysanthemum is an elegant and pure flower, containing 18 amino acids, vitamins and trace elements. It works well for preventing and treating hypertension, coronary heart disease and cancer. In addition, edible chrysanthemum is a kind of vegetable with high nutrition.
Sophora flowers look like snow in May and one can pick flowers to make sophora cookies or sauté it with eggs. The most delicious sophora cuisine is to steam sophora flowers with flour.