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Ingredient of the Day - Dried Lily Buds 

Also known as golden needles and tiger lilies, dried lily buds are the unopened flowers of day lilies.  The lily, Hemerocallis to use its scientific name, has been used in China as both a food and medicine for over 2,000 years. Dried lily buds are yellow-gold in color, with a musky or earthy taste. Two dishes featuring lily buds are Muxi Pork, a stir-fried dish, and Hot and Sour Soup.

When purchasing lily buds, look for ones that are pale in color, and not brittle.   At home, store them in a jar in a cool and dry place. Before using, you may need to cut off about a quarter inch at the bottom to get rid of the woody stem. Like many other "woodsy" Chinese vegetables, lily buds must be soaked in warm water (in this case for about thirty minutes) before use. They can then be left whole or cut in half crosswise as called for in the recipe. Or, for better flavor, try tying them in a knot.  

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