Not many people know dragon fruit flowers are a rich source of nutrients, which can be used in traditional herbal medicine. The flower can also be used as an ingredient in various tasty dishes.
The dragon fruit plant belongs to the cactus family, and is more common in the central and southern regions rather than in the north.
According to HCM City’s Communications – Health Education Centre, the flower is good for digestion.
A report on healthline.com stressed that dragon fruit is low in calories but rich in essential vitamins and minerals. It also contains a substantial amount of dietary fiber.
“It contains the antioxidants vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and betalain. Studies have linked diets high in antioxidants to a reduced risk of chronic disease,” the site said.
Its high supply of vitamin C and carotenoids may offer immune-boosting properties.
Eastern traditional herbal medicine considers dragon fruit flowers good for one’s lungs.
Trương Thị Thu Liễu, a chef from a resort in the central province of Bình Thuận, said the flower is considered a kind of clean vegetable, which can be cooked with pork and seafood.
Like Queen of the Night, Dragon Fruit Flower blooms at night and withers by 9am or 10am. So people often cut it before sunrise when the flower is still fresh.
There are several dishes made from the flower which are both delicious and nutritious.
Soup of flower stuffed with crab and shrimp
Liễu’s favourite dishes include soup of Dragon Fruit Flower stuffed with crab and shrimp.
She prepares four flowers, eight crab’s legs, six shrimps, some dry onions, 0.2kg of chicken bone, two egg whites, and 10g of tapioca starch, some sesame oil, some pepper, spices and fresh herbs.
Crab legs are boiled then removed from the shell, then marinated with some spices. Onions are fried and mixed with the crab. In the meantime, chicken bone is boiled in 1.5 litres of water.
The mixture of crab and shrimp is stuffed in the flower and steamed. Then the stuffed flower is added to the soup. The dish is served hot with a drop of sesame oil and herbs.
Flower with lean pork
Soup with Dragon Fruit Flower and lean pork is good for those in ill health.
Farmers always choose flowers that sprout near one another and have less chance to come into fruit, meaning they are sweeter when cooked.
The young flowers are cleaned and cut into pieces measuring 2-3cm.
Lean pork is minced and stirred in fat. Water is added to the pork together with spices. When the water boils, the flowers are added.
The soup should be served cool.
Flower stirred in fat
The flower can also be fried in oil with garlic. It should be fried quickly over high heat, making it slightly crispy and sweet to the taste.
Flower with beef
For this dish, the beef should be marinated with pepper, dried onion, and spices, before being fried with garlic. Then cut flowers should be added. This mixture is then stirred well for a few minutes, before being served with some herbs.
The dish should be served hot with steamed rice.
Fried flower covered with flour
This dish is made with bloomed flowers. The flowers are cleaned and dipped into wet tempura flour, then put into boiling oil. The dish is crispy and should be served hot.
Flower stew with pork chops
Elderly people tend to like this dish as the pork chops will be soft and mixed with the sweetness of the flowers.
You should prepare 300g of soft pork chops, which are cut into small pieces of some 3cm long.
The other ingredients are 40g of dried Dragon Fruit Flower, some 20g of apple, 20g of dried fig, 10g of ginger together with some chilli, salt, sugar, and spices.
Pork chops should be blanched in boiling water to make them clean for clear soup. The ginger should be broken into small pieces.
The fig, pork chops, flowers, apple and ginger are placed in a bowl, with sugar, spices and salt to taste. This is then boiled for two hours until the pork chops are soft and mixed well with the flowers.
The soup should be served hot with steamed rice. The pork chops should be dipped with soya sauce and chilli to enhance the taste.
Pickled flower bud
Farmers always take out flower buds that sprout too close to one another. The young buds taken out can be pickled to make a side dish.
Ingredients include dry onions, fresh red chili, salt and sugar.
Onions should be cut into thin slices. Salt (3 table spoons), sugar (3 table spoons), vinegar (2 tablespoons) and water (1 litre) should be mixed together. The cleansed flower buds are put in a ceramic jar with onion slices and chillis and left for three days. VNS