In Asia where daylilies grow wild, people have been eating their roots, flowers, and buds for millennia. Today the dried buds known as “golden needles” are often found in the Asian food section of American supermarkets. They’re even tastier, though, when fresh picked from your own garden.
In his award-winning blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, Hank Shaw recommends a very simple saute: “Just lily buds, butter and salt. Delicious. Briefly cooked, the buds have a bit of knacken, a German expression meaning a ‘pop’. Yet the insides reminded me of squash blossoms. The taste? Green, with a whiff of radish and a dash of green bean. Honestly, I’d eat this as a side dish any day, any place. It needs nothing else.” Shaw isn’t as enthusiastic about the flowers (“okay”) and leaves (“not terrible”) but calls daylily roots “quite possibly the best tubers I’ve ever eaten.”
For a slightly more complicated recipe, try this Daylily Bud Saute with a hint of nutmeg from Golden Harvest Organics:
24 daylily buds
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
dash of nutmeg
1 tsp milk, as needed
Cut the base off the buds. Saute the garlic in olive oil. Beat eggs and mix in enough flour to make a thin batter. Add the sauteed garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. If the batter is too thick, add a teaspoon or so of milk. Dip the buds in the batter and saute until golden brown.