I have not had much chance to cook with alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) though I have worked on a few recipes. I know that the flower heads are edible, so I thought that here was a chance to adapt a stir-fry recipe I have for common hogweed flower buds to use alexanders. There were also dandelion flower buds next to the alexanders, so I brought a few of those as well.
|Alexanders plant (Smyrnium olusatrum) with a close-up of alexanders flowers.|
These are exactly the plants I gathered this morning to cook the dish below.
For the wild forager, alexanders are a very versatile plant, in that the stems can be cooked like asparagus, the roots can be treated like any other root vegetables and the leaves can be used as a stock vegetable and are particularly useful in soups. The flower buds can also be steamed and eaten in place of broccoli. The stems, roots, flowers and flower buds are also great in stir-fries.
The recipe presented here is quite simple and very easy to make, but it's delicious. It's a traditional Chinese pork belly stir-fry adapted for use with alexanders flowers. In this recipe I have only used young and small alexanders flowers that have just emerged from the bud (ie the flowers have not yet opened).
Alexanders Flowers and Pork Stir-fryServes: 4
Ingredients:4 slices of pork belly, cut into 1cm (1/2 in) slices
1 onion, sliced into strips
6 baby sweetcorn, halved
1 bak choi, quartered
12 small alexanders flowers
8 dandelion flower buds
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce (nam pla)
groundnut oil for frying
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Method:Heat the oil in a wok. When almost smoking add the pork and fry for a few minutes, or until nicely browned all over. Add the sesame seeds and the onion and fry for about 4 minutes or until the onion is soft.
|Alexanders flowers and dandelion flower buds picked and ready|
to be cooked in the stir-fry.
Continue stir-frying until the grens have just wilted then add the alexanders flowers and the dandelion flower buds. Continue stir-frying for 2 minutes more then serve immediately on a bed of rice.
Having made this recipe today I had a thought. I do not know this area very well, but on my walk this morning I saw a few wild plants. Tomorrow I am going to make a 20 minute walk and during that time I am going to survey all the wild edible plants that I see. I would hope to find at least 10 and tomorrow I will present pictures of all the plants I've seen along with a little information about them, the parts that are edible and links to a few recipes showing how they can be prepared and cooked.
So, tomorrow one of this blogs will be a little different from usual. But I will still present a number of my usual recipes.