Known as the “ginseng of vegetables,” the prized ingredient Lanzhou Lily Bulb is unique in its own right. Typically, the bulb is grown as an ornamental flower flourishing with vibrant colors, but in fact this genus is found in many tasty regional Chinese dishes. Found in the northern region of China approximately 3000 feet above sea level, this white silken vegetable grows in a mountainous area.
Crisp, sweet, starchy, floral--all of these nuances can be detected in this small bulb. Packing a subtle punch with all these flavors, a chef can bring a multitude of dimensions to a dish by using the lily bulb. Personally I love for the lily bulb to be eaten raw; many chefs lightly blanch it to kill any bacteria that exists, but I believe in the beauty of the raw flavor and am willing to sacrifice the risk of eating it raw to enhance the experience of eating it. One of my signature dishes that uses this bulb is Steamed Madai Snapper with Black wood Ear Mushrooms with a salad of fresh lily bulbs on top. The flavors of the lily bulb bring brightness, cleanliness and a sweet element to this dish.
The bulb can be eaten in a salad with celery or even lightly stir fried with assorted vegetables. Most chefs haven’t jumped on board as of yet, but I’m sure that using this dynamic vegetable will add depth to your repertoire.