Want to eat a lily bulb? No? How about an arbutus?
Edible lily bulb -top view
Ok, so it’s not really that weird, just a bit interesting, but long-time visitors to the blog will know how much I luuurve alliteration. And I so wish I’d though of it first but you can check out a whole host of Weird Food Wednesday posts over at Me Hungry (where I pinched the idea, ta!).
Back to these
Edible lily bulb - base (covered in saw dust)
According to the vegetable stall “uncle”, the bulbs came from Hokkaido, Japan and could be eaten raw or cooked. We were told to handle the bulbs as gently as possible (they are sold individually packed in sawdust) and to “peel” the individual bulblets off, rather than use a knife. “Add it only at the last minute,” we were warned, as prolonged cooking can cause the bulbs to disintegrate.
All this was sounding too difficult so I let Mum buy some bulbs to take home with her. Unfortunately for mum, and luckily for you blog readers, she totally forgot the package and left it in my fridge.
I had to find a way to cook the bulb that would ensure maximum “eaten-ness” by the family. A stir-fry sounded pretty safe. First though, I tasted a bit of the bulb raw. The taste and texture reminded me of water chestnuts but not as sweet - crunchy, mild and pleasant tasting with a bit of “earth”. If you’re familiar with jicama/ yam bean, you’ll get what I’m talking about.
The resulting green bean, carrot, chicken and lily bulb stir-fry went down relatively well with the family. The texture changes considerably when cooked and the sweetness disappears. I was terrified of overcooking the lily bulb so I think it was a little “under” and the texture was a bit “sticky” - similar to lotus root, or even slightly undercooked potato. Overall, no one hated the dish, but lily bulb isn’t exactly something everyone wants me to hunt down and cook again as soon as possible. It was really more of a novelty dish for us. Perhaps I should have prepared the bulb a different way to
extract maximum enjoyment?
I still have one bulb left in the fridge but I’m going to plant it in a pot and see what comes up :)
The arbutus though, was a different story. We really liked these and just ate them fresh. The taste is tart and sweet at the same time. The texture though is what makes it so interesting. Even though it looks “hairy”, each individual “hair” is actually fleshy and quite firm, giving it a very appealing mouth-feel. In fact, I think the arbutus is a type of berry (the plant is also known as a strawberry tree) which is why the texture reminds me of a firm mulberry. Unlike most berries, the arbutus has a little green seed in the middle. Overall a very exciting find and I’ll definitely get more of these when I see them.
As you can probably tell, I am totally enjoying my wet market expeditions. Not only are there interesting finds to be made, the stall holders are real characters. Once you frequent a stall a few times, they treat you very well and even start to offer advice on how you should cook whatever it is you are buying from them that day. I even scored a free bag of spice mix from the spice store “uncle” after confiding that my kids couldn’t handle the heat of chillies. “I’ll make you a special blend just for kids,” he assured me and deftly placed teaspoons and half teaspoons of various ground spices into a bag.
"Magic" spice blend
Then he launched into a very detailed explanation of how to cook a mild chicken curry with the spice mix - this involved first marinading some chicken with a bit of the mix, then frying a little bit more of the spice mix with onions, then tipping the rest of mix form the bag into the rapidly boiling curry at the correct moment. Intrigued, I followed his instructions to the letter (although I did end up not tipping all the spice mix in for fear it would be too spicy for the kids), and voila, delicious curry that the kids actually ate! I did have to dollop some plain yoghurt on for MC Junior because it was still a a teeny bit fiery, but at least it’s a start :)
Thanks for stopping by and if you are interested in contributing anything for Muhibbah Malaysian Monday, do remember to send your entries to Shannon from Just As Delish who will be our host for the month of June: shannoncclim(at)gmail(dot)com
Take care and see you soon!
Btw - sorry for the photo quality, my poor, darling G10 is being repaired (the lens just decided to quit one day) so I’ve resorted to the iPhone for all pics. Hopefully G10 will be back shortly...
PS - if you are contemplating eating lily bulbs, please check to make sure they're edible as some varieties of lily can be poisonous!