Wild black-jack flowers, an intriguing salad addition in Vietnam mountains
The black-jack flower, which grows in the wild in Vietnam, is used to make a delicate salad in the northwestern mountains.
It is a common sight along roads everywhere, and is primarily considered a weed rather than a source of food. But in northwestern mountainous localities like Yen Bai Province, it is treated as a special vegetable with medicinal benefits.
The most common way to eat it is by sautéing it with garlic and beef. But chopped black-jack also makes for a refreshing and crunchy addition to a salad.
According to the traditional herbal medicine belief, the flower possesses anti-bacterial and healing properties and is beneficial to the liver, lungs and the digestive system. It is usually prescribed for strep throat, diarrhea and inflammatory bowel disease.
The flower belongs to the daisy family. Essentially the floret, shorter version of a daisy, it has five small white petals surrounding a bright yellow pistil.
The preparation process is no less elaborate. Since the herb has a pungent smell and bitter taste, it is boiled twice and then wrung dry. After each time it is soaked in ice water to preserve its vibrant colour and crunchy texture. After a few rounds it is finally ready.
For people living in the northwestern region, smoked buffalo meat is the highlight of every meal. With black-jacks added to it, the dish gains depth. Nhan Dan
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