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Yunnan Flower Delicacies

Nicknamed "kingdom of plants", Yunnan is a place where flowers are seen blooming all the year around. It's one of the well-known "18 oddities of Yunnan" that flowers can be cooked. People in Yunnan have incorporated flowers into their culinary arts.

1-Banana Flowers (bā jiāo huā )

With peculiar medicinal value, banana flowers taste somewhat sweet. Banana flowers must be deprived of the bitterness by scalding in hot water and cooled down in cold water. Minorities such as Dai, Jingpo and Hani etc like eating banana flowers. “Chicken simmered with banana flowers” is a delicacy of the Hani people; it is nutritious and can promote lactation.

2- Sophora davidii Flowers (kǔ cì huā )

Sophora davidii (Ku Ci Hua) can be found in most places of Yunnan. After being scalded to get rid of the bitterness, Sophora davidii flowers can be handed to the chef. Normally, Sophora davidii can be prepared with eggs and bacon etc. “Sophora davidii flower sauted with fermented soybeans” is a household dish of the Miao Minority.

3- Kapok Flowers (mù mián huā)

Kapok flower is called "Pan Zhi Hua" in Chinese. In each March, you can find masses of blooming kapok flowers in places including Jinghong (Xishuangbanna), Pu'er (Simao), Nujiang etc. Locals in these areas like to pick kapok flowers and dry them for further cooking. A delicacy is "pork stewed with kapok flowers". 

4- Snow Lotus (Saussurea) (xuě lián huā ) 

Snow lotus (Saussurea) is found to grow in snow mountains with an altitude of 4,500 meters above the sea level. Appearing white and looking like a bird nest, snow lotus exhibits both ornamental and medicinal values. Local Tibetans in Diqing Prefecture (Northwest Yunnan) have got used to drying snow lotuses and dipped them, with saffron and crab-apple etc, in liquor which is a good cure for arthritis, rheumatism and gynecological diseases. A nourishing dish is “chicken simmered with snow lotus”.  

5-Chysanthemum (jú huā )

Fresh chrysanthemum petals are normally prepared with “Cross-bridge Rice Noodles”. Compared to traditional rice noodles, Chrysanthemum Noodle tastes fragrant and refreshing.    

6-Birchleaf Pear Blossoms (tánɡ lí huā)

Birch-leaf pear is deemed the “mother tree” of normal pear which has to be grafted to bear fruits. Birch-leaf pear is kind of shrub growing in the wild. One can find it with easily in Yunnan. People in Yunnan have got used to eating the blossoms of birch-leaf pears. Indeed, it is truly a delicacy to entertain guest in springtime. The blossom tastes bitter, so it must be scalded with boiling water for cooking. It can be fried, made soup or cold dish with vinegar and soy sauce.

7- White Azaleas (bái dù juān)

All azaleas are not suitable to be cooked though Yunnan abounds in azalea resources. Dali, a mountainous area in Northwest Yunnan, is known for white azaleas that bloom in spring and summer all over the mountains. The Bai People usually pick white azaleas to cook. Especially in the countryside, farmers conveniently take them home when working in mountains. Azalea is normally dried for future need. It can be prepared by deep-frying and boiling etc. “Deep fried azalea” is quite crispy and stands out as another household delicacy of the Bai minority in Dali. 

8-Pumpkin Flowers (nán ɡuā huā )

Pumpkin flowers can be prepared by frying (sauting). In Heqing area of Dali, there is another peculiar way for preparing pumpkin flowers. Locals make pies from fennels, bean sprouts and steamed rice etc. The pies are usually wrapped in pumpkin flowers to be deep fried. As a delicacy for vegetarians, this dish is locally nicknamed “sausage of Buddhist monks” and is normally prepared during the Spirit Festival on lunar July 14th.

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