Lily Bulbs

Photo: Danny Kim. Illustrations by John Burgoyne.

Better known for the flowers they produce, lily bulbs (or bai he in Mandarin) are a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. The sweet and starchy orbs are available fresh from April to June in Chinatown grocery stores and can be stir-fried, served raw, or used to thicken soups. They also make for a terrific springtime bruschetta, as in this recipe from Pulino’s chef Tony Liu.

Tony Liu’s Lily-Bulb Bruschetta

1/2 cup lily bulbs (about two bulbs; available at Hong Kong Supermarket)

1/4 cup green garlic

1  cup spring onions

2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus rind

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup pea shoots

Salt and white pepper to taste

6 slices of crusty bread, toasted and drizzled with olive oil

(1) Separate the lily bulbs, then rinse. (2) Slice the green garlic and spring onions into thin rounds and set aside. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then sauté the lily bulbs and green garlic until slightly wilted. Add the spring onions, cover, and sweat until tender. Add Parmesan rind and white wine­, and reduce until mostly evaporated. Add pea shoots, mix until well combined, then season with salt and white pepper. Remove rind, and serve warm on grilled or toasted crusty bread drizzled with olive oil. (3) Garnish with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4 to 6.

Lily Bulbs