Tulip tuna

Flowers add a particularly elegant touch and subtle flavor for cooking seafood. If cooking with flowers seems odd, consider these taste comparisons: angelica or celery, anise or fennel, burnet or cucumber,  borage or cucumber, mushrooms or dandelions, lemons or fuchsia, lettuce or day lily, nasturtium or pepper …  the list goes on how flowers offer familiar flavors in delightful new ways.

And then there are tulips … before using any flower in a dish, be sure to check which parts are edible and which are not.

“After falling out of favor for many years, cooking and garnishing with flowers is back in vogue again,” writes Linda Stradley for What’s Cooking America. “Flower cookery has been traced back to Roman times, and to the Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian cultures. Edible flowers were especially popular in the Victorian era.” The wonderful website offers an excellent chart on what flowers to use or avoid, the tastes – along with some neat recipes for mixing flowers and cheese, flower tea, flower butter or more.

Check that a flower is edible before using it in a recipe. If you’re not sure, check with a local agriculture extension agent, like this one in North Carolina, which offers another good chart: “Edible flowers can be used fresh as a garnish or as an integral part of a dish, such as a salad. Squash flowers can be fried in light batter or cornmeal. Some flowers can be stuffed or used in stir-fry dishes. Edible flowers can be candied; frozen in ice cubes and added to beverages; made into jellies and jams; used to make teas or wines; minced and added to cheese spreads, herbal butters, pancakes, crepes, and waffles. Many flowers can be used to make vinegars for cooking, marinades, or dressings for salad.”

And for some really unusual recipes try Tulips and Tuna from Hubpages.com – canned albacore, bright tulips, celery, curry, mayonnaise –  or spicy Coriander-Crusted Albacore softened with edible blooms, courtesy of the Yakima Wine Association. Wine, flowers and albacore – what could be better?

Photo courtesy of Love Krittaya and Wikimedia Commons.

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