They are often seen as just pretty garnish, but edible flowers are more than just an ingredient chefs use to beautify a plate. Nibble on a dainty petal and you'll notice the tart, bitter notes often used to enhance the overall flavours of a dish.
To be sure, flowers have been part of the human diet for a long time, in both the East and the West. Osmanthus blossoms, for instance, are used in tea and infused in desserts for a floral fragrance. In Southeast Asia, butterfly pea flowers are commonly used to add a tinge of blue to rice.
Over at SKYE restaurant in The Park Lane Hong Kong, a Pullman Hotel, chef Lee Adams has his own rooftop garden where he grows fresh herbs and flowers to be used in his dishes. In winter, he harvests sunny marigolds, begonia and nasturtium, while cucumber flowers and torenia fournieri are blooms he picks during summer months.
"Which flowers you use depends on the flavours of the dish you are preparing," shares Adams. For instance, cucumber flowers are used in an ocean trout tartare dish that has a punchy cucumber kimchi. The petals help cut through the acidity and balances out the dish with a more refreshing taste.
Chef Lee Adams from SKYE tending to the flowers in his rooftop garden
With his own garden, Adams manages to bypass the challenges faced by chefs in temperate countries, where importing these delicate easily-bruised flowers are a nightmare in logistics. Here, the flowers are picked fresh every morning, then delivered to the kitchen where the petals are plucked and cleaned to be used for service.
Besides the cucumber flowers, Adams also uses jasmine flowers in an amuse bouche of salmon smoked in jasmine tea leaves. As the flavour profile of the flowers tend to be more delicate, they are hardly used in meat dishes. "We don't use the flowers unnecessarily, if it doesn't work then we don't put it on," shares Adams.
Different types of edible flowers grown in the rooftop garden of SKYE.
He does, however, find new ways to experiment with the flowers he has to let them be the star of the show. Terroir Salad, for instance, is a dish where whole heads of flowers are coated in a light batter and cooked as tempura. Here, the earthy bitter flavours of the flowers are enhanced by a soy mirin dressing, with the crispy batter rounding off the dish with a nice crunch.
"There are many other things you can do with different varieties," shares Adams. But it all comes back to one thing at the end of the day — fresh is always best.
Meryl Koh is former Digital Associate Editor with the Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau. Her hunger for heart-felt connections and breaking stories is fuelled by a good cup of coffee, occasionally spiked with a shot of whisky.
Traditional Hungarian cuisine is experiencing a renaissance, but some chefs prefer taking a radical turn by using experimental techniques, mixed influences, and disruptive tastes. At restaurants Arany Kaviár, Nobu and MÁK in Budapest, the fine dining experience is as unconventional as it gets. For a deliciously brave result.
The MICHELIN Guide Inspectors have been the mainstay of the publication since 1933 and are part of its very DNA: without them, there would be no restaurant selection. Here we uncover the mysteries of this profession that arouses fascination and intrigue…
We interviewed the chefs who won stars in MICHELIN Guide Nara 2022, asking them who they’d like to share this feeling with in their moment of triumph. We also asked them to share an episode of their lives with that person.
Perched high up in the Tibetan mountain is a winery that is one of the highest in the world, where French winemaker Maxence Dulou attempts to create a wine as pure as the natural surroundings of Shangri-La.
Be the first to get news and update about the MICHELIN Guide
Michelin will process your personal data to (i) manage your subscription (ii) and measure the performance of our campaigns and analyze your interactions with our communications. Your data can be shared with others Michelin affiliate (TabletHotels and Robert Parker) in order to know you better and with your consent sending you marketing offers. You can manage your communication preferences at any time or unsubscribe using the link included into all our emails. To exercise your Privacy rights: firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about how Michelin manage your data here.