One of the most unusual dishes I had while visiting Pulong Tau National Park (Mount Murud) was stir-fried orchid flowers! Our guides collected young shoots and flowers of Arundina gaminifolia (bamboo orchid) that were growing abundantly along the logging tracks as we made our way to our first camp.
Bamboo orchid flowers collected by our guides. This would be one of the dishes at dinner!
The highland variety found here are much paler than the common lowland variety found in Kuching. The lip has much less purple and more pink with thick, white petals. Arundina graminifolia is an easily grown species which quickly colonizes open, disturbed areas with good drainage.
All cleaned and ready to be stir fried over a wood fire!
And here are the stir-fried flowers! They taste quite bitter, reminded me very much of bitter gourd leaves which I often take raw as a natural health food. Since I’m used to bitter gourd, I was able to eat a few spoonfuls of this. The locals take this flower to control high blood pressure. I suppose it could be good for controlling high blood sugar problems as well. You know what they say, most things that are good for you are often bitter.
Anyway, when I got back from Ba’kelalan, I was determined to try this dish with my own Arundina flowers. I have a few Arundina bushes of the lowland variety. This lowland variety found in Kuching have short lived flowers that last only a day but new ones bloom daily so the bushes are never ever out of flowers. Read on…
Here are some flowers I collected for my little “experiment” ha! These flowers have more purple and are more fragile (thinner, softer petals) compared to the highland variety we had for dinner in the highlands.
Into the frying pan for a quick stir fry with a bit of oil, garlic and salt obtained from the natural salt springs of Ba’kelalan.
Voila! the taste? let’s just say this will be my first and last attempt at recreating the dish we had in the highlands! LOL Perhaps it’s cause they are different varieties (or maybe we were just real hungry after a long trek in the mountains), but these left a really horrid bitter aftertaste that lingered even after I ate lots of sweet stuff to get rid of it. The flowers themselves aren’t that bitter when you first eat them, it’s the aftertaste that made me nauseous! So folks, don’t try this at home! hahaha