In Yunnan, flowers are used for ornamental purposes but they are also popular in the kitchen.
With plenty of edible flowers around, there are countless dishes that have been created to take advantage of their unique fragrances and flavours.
According to data, in Yunnan people of all nationalities eat more than 160 varieties of flowers every day.
You can find a huge selection of those in the vegetable market, making it almost impossible for you to leave the region without trying, at least, one of the many flower-made meals.
The preference for roses is beyond doubt. There is a wide variety of delicacies ranging from rose cakes to rose sugar, rose porridge and rose tea, among others.
Banana flower is a special delicacy gracing the tables of Yunnan people, with banana flower fried meat being one of the most famous dishes.
The flower taste is a little bitter, and for that reason it needs artificial scalding to become more tasty. Even though it doesn't look as attractive as other flowers, its taste more than makes up for it.
You can also try fragrant crisp banana flower, fried eggs with banana flower, and baked banana flower - all ranking highly amongst some of Yunnan's most popular dishes.
Begonia Pear Flower
Begonia pear is a type of wild shrub growing in Yunnan. It is rich in amino acids and vitamins believed to have a calming effect on the stomach and food digestion.
Its aroma is quite pleasant. Still, it has a very bitter taste and needs to be washed and soaked for a long time before it can be tasted.
Amongst the most common dishes you can find: leek and begonia pear flower, stir-fried Tangli flower, begonia pear salad, pepper and salt Chinese flowering apple egg and Chinese flowering apple sauce.
In Yunnan, you'll see that cord rape flower with sauce and fried rape flower amongst some of the most common dishes.
Some people also use this vegetable to cook soup or to mix into a hot pot.
With important economic value as well as ornamental, cole flower is a delicacy for tourists. If you fancy trying one of these dishes, it’s worth visiting Tonghai to taste the Chong dishes.
The broom got its name from its bird-like appearance and some people even call it the “parakeet flower.”
Tonghai people fry eggs with broom, which releases a fragrant and sweet aroma. It is so delicious that some locals even call it "the fragrance of the forest,” tasting as fresh and sweet as meat and boasting a unique flavour.
In Spring, magnolia flowers blossom and this is the time when you should taste them.
Magnolia flowers can be used in a wide range of dishes. They can be fried with meat, used to stuff meatballs, or simply fried to become crispy. Their unique fragrance makes heavy dishes refreshing and lighter.
Common dishes you can try: magnolia flower cake, magnolia flower steamed cake, magnolia flower meat slices, magnolia flower salad, magnolia flower rice porridge and magnolia flower egg soup, among others.
When a jade lotus flower is mature, its petals are pink. It has six or seven petals, which are used to make different dishes. One of those is ”thick petal meat,” exuding a very special fragrance.
However, mixing jade lotus flowers with fried vegetables is not the thing to do. Adding some boiled mashed beans, though, will make the dish taste delicious.
In Yunnan, fried beans with jade lotus is a very famous dish. The soft taste of mashed broad beans and the lingering fragrance of jade lotus flowers are a perfect and refreshing match.
The Taro Flower
In Yunnan, taro flowers are often used for cooking. The main cooking method is to fry or steam them with eggplants or green pepper, for example. Steamed tofu with taro flower is a home-cooked delicacy.
The stem of the pumpkin flower is about 30 centimetres long, and the receptacle is a green pentagonal bell. You can enjoy eating the flower after removing the skin from the stem, the surface from the base, and the centre.
Pumpkin flowers are very common in Yunnan and have been eaten for a long time. Therefore, there are dozens of cooking methods. It is worth trying fried pumpkin flower, pumpkin flower fried eggs, peanuts pumpkin flower soup, beer pumpkin flower, green pepper fried pumpkin flower, raw bitter gourd pumpkin flower or pumpkin flower cake, among others.
In addition to being used for drinking water as tea, Zhuang people in Wenshan also cook notoginseng flowers, creating famous dishes such as "fried frog with notoginseng flower." It is a feast of fresh and fragrant flavours.
Also known as Burma gardenia, egg yolk flower, India jasmine or season flowers, egg flowers smell refreshing and taste slightly bitter. They can be used to make herbal tea drinks or fried. Locals believe it has an effect of relieving a sore throat, being very popular in Xishuangbanna.
Almost all the rhizome and leaves of lotus can be eaten from the newly sprouted lotus tip to lotus flower, lotus leaves, lotus seeds, lotus stamen and lotus root.
Leek flowers can be used to make plenty of dishes. They can be added to mutton hotpots or fried with shredded meat and scrambled eggs, for example. One of the most delicious of those dishes is Qujing Yunnan pickled leek flower which is sold all over the world.
Records show that Yunnan has a history of flower eating for more than 1,000 years. It is so traditional that even Yunnan people themselves do not know how many kinds of flowers can be eaten and the many ways they can be cooked.
Local Yunnan Province