Have you ever wondered why flowers are not really included in the human diet? Do flowers look better than they taste? When did our ancestors realise that some flowers are delicious to eat while some others taste yucky? These questions popped up in my mind when I learned about dork khajon (ดอกขจร), otherwise known as milkweed flower or cowslip creeper flower. I never knew of their existence before but after seeing them displayed in Thai supermarkets and fresh markets, I became curious about this particular type of edible flower. Curious, I googled more about them and found out that cowslip creeper flower is common in Thai and Southeast Asia cooking.
Cowslip creeper flowers are good sources of calcium as well as vitamins A and C, and are supposedly good for the liver and kidney. It is also sbelieved that imbibing milkweed flowers will help to induce vomiting. Here’s a good overview. There are various ways to cook dork khajon, but making it as a yam (salad) is the yummiest in my opinion. I tried frying these flowers with omelettes before, as suggested by my dear friend May, but I found the taste pretty mediocre.
Cowslip creeper flowers come in small bundles or clusters. Pluck the flower buds from the stems to separate them into individual pieces. The buds make little popping sounds when pulled from the stems, something like popping bubble wraps. *Grins*
I love adding shrimps to a Thai salad. The shrimps’ bright orange contrasts brilliantly with the vibrant green of the milkweed flowers. Roasted peanuts—with the skins removed—are an absolute must for me, for they add extra crunchiness and layers to a dish. My current obsession is garnishing a Thai salad with julienned kaffir leaves, a result of staring too often at the decadent pictures in Chef McDang’s book.
Cowslip creeper flowers, 2 cups
Shrimps, cleaned and deveined, 200g
Bird’s eye chilli (phrik khii nuu), sliced, 1 tbsp
Roasted chili paste (naam phrik phao), 2 tbsps
Fish sauce, 2 tbsps
Palm sugar, 1 tbsp
Lime sauce, 2 tbsps
Garnishes (optional but nice to have)
Roasted peanuts, 1 tbsp
Kaffir leaves, julienned
To make the salad dressing, mix the sliced chilli, roasted chilli paste, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice together until they are well blended. Feel free to adjust the dressing to personal preference—it should taste in equal parts spicy, sour and sweet. Set the dressing aside.
Blanch the cowslip creeper flowers in boiling water until they are just cooked—they will usually turn a brighter shade of green. Make sure not to overcook or they will turn soggy. Then remove the flowers and douse them in cold water to retain their vibrant green hue before draining the water away. Repeat the same steps for the shrimps.
Arrange the cowslip creeper flowers and shrimps on a serving plate. With a tablespoon, drizzle the dish with the salad dressing. Then garnish the dish with peanuts and kaffir leaves. Serve immediately.