Dried Lily Flowers (黄花, huang hua), also known as dried lily buds or golden needles, are the unopened flowers of the day lily plant. Dried lily flowers have a brownish yellow color (it literally means yellow flower in Chinese), with the shape and texture of a straw. They have a very strong and special woody, earthy aroma.
Dried Lily Flowers are used in Chinese cooking as a flavor enhancer, primarily in vegetarian dishes, but also in various stews and soups. They are a very important ingredient in Buddha’s Delight (Jai cuisine), moo shu vegetables, and Beijing style noodle sauce.
In China, you can find both fresh and dried lily flowers. However, for the convenience of storage, they are usually dried prior to packaging.
To prepare dried lily flowers
Dried lily flowers must be rehydrated before using. Follow the steps below to rehydrate and prep.
- Gently rinse dried lily flowers with tap water to wash off the dirt.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add lily flowers into a large bowl and pour boiled water over the flowers to cover them (a handful of lily flowers needs 2 to 3 cups water).
- Let sit for 2 hours, until lily flowers turn very soft (otherwise they will taste very chewy in fished dish).
- Drain lily flowers and save the re-hydrating water.
- Use hand to snip the tough end. Cut in half lengthwise.
- Let the re-hydrating water sit for a while so the solids will settle on the bottom. Use the water as a vegetable stock in a stew or soup (do not add the solids).
You can usually find dried lily flowers at a Chinese supermarket. Try to pick the lily flowers that have a darker color and stronger stems (like the pictures above). The light color ones have very mild flavor.
You can also find dried lily flowers on Amazon.