Yellow Sesbania Flowers
Inventory, lb : 0
Sesbania flowers are small oval blooms, averaging 2 to 8 centimeters in length, and have a curved, broad, and flat shape. The flowers appear in groupings of 2 to 8 blooms on the end of slender green stems and are nestled between branches of straight, smooth, and oval pinnate leaves ranging 1 to 2 centimeters in length. These leaves fold in on each other, closing at night, and reopen when the run rises following the sun’s path throughout the day. The flower petals are bright yellow and have a delicate, velvety, and soft texture. Sesbania flowers have a slight crunch and a succulent, tender quality when consumed raw, releasing a mild, sweet, and subtly green flavoring. Some consumers note their similarity in taste to a sweet pea. When cooked, the flowers soften and take on the other flavors in the dish, contributing added texture and a faint floral taste.
Sesbania flowers are available year-round.
Sesbania flowers, botanically a part of the Sesbania genus, is a general descriptor for several species of flowers belonging to the Fabaceae or pea family. The flowers are native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia and grow on a multi-branching, spreading shrub that can reach 1 to 3 meters in height. Sesbania bispinosa is commonly referred to as the Yellow Sesbania flower and is the bloom featured in the photograph above. These flowers are highly favored for their mild, sweet flavor, bright coloring, and versatility in culinary preparations. It is important to note that Yellow Sesbania flowers should not be confused with Agathi, Hummingbird, or White Sesbania flowers, another common culinary species classified as Sesbania grandiflora. White Sesbania flowers are larger in size and appear in shades of white in a similar half-moon shape. Sesbania flowers are traditionally harvested from wild plants throughout history, but recently, they have also been established in home gardens as ornamental, medicinal, and culinary plants. The leaves, flowers, and young pods are edible, and Sesbania flowers are commonly used as a vegetable in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. In Thailand, the flowers are known as Dok Sano, while the blooms are known as Pka Snao in Cambodia and Dien Dien Gai or Dien Thanh gai in Vietnam. Sesbania flowers are commercially grown on a limited scale and are mainly gathered from wild and home gardens plants, consumed raw or cooked in omelets, soups, curries, and dips.
Sesbania flowers are a source of fiber to stimulate the digestive tract, antioxidants to guard the cells against free radical damage, and calcium and phosphorus to protect bones and teeth. The flowers also provide some iron to develop the protein hemoglobin for oxygen transport through the bloodstream and lower amounts of vitamins A and C, magnesium, and B vitamins. In India, Sesbania flowers and leaves are used in poultices. They are customarily used to soothe internal ailments and are said to have inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Sesbania flowers have a subtly sweet and green flavoring well suited in fresh or cooked preparations. The flowers can be consumed straight, out of hand, or they can be sprinkled over salads, grain bowls, and vegetable platters. In Cambodia, Sesbania flowers are popularly harvested from wild plants and are dipped by the handful into a chile pepper paste. The flowers are also a favored ingredient in Southeast Asia for hot pot, battered and fried into tempura, or gently tossed into stir-fries. In Vietnam, Sesbania flowers are incorporated into canch chua, a sweet and sour soup, cooked into omelets, or the petals are served in poached vegetables, a dish known as rau kho quet. In Thailand, Sesbania flowers are mixed into soups and curries, or they are consumed with a fermented chile sauce made with fish paste in nam prik kapi. Beyond savory dishes, Sesbania flowers can be incorporated into desserts and contribute a sweet pea flavor. Kanom bua loi is a coconut milk-based dessert featuring rice flour balls garnished with Sesbania flower petals. Sesbania flowers pair well with aromatics such as garlic, chile peppers, onions, and shallots, lime juice, cilantro, other fresh herbs, and coconut. Whole, unwashed Sesbania flowers will keep up to one week when stored in a loose plastic bag in the refrigerator. It is recommended to consume the blooms immediately for the best quality and flavor.
In Cambodia, Sesbania flowers are gathered in bunches and are a popular culinary ingredient during the Water Festival, also known as Bon Om Touk. The three-day festival celebrates the end of the monsoon season and is a time when families gather along rivers to give thanks and offerings to the water goddess Ganga in hopes of receiving a good fishing season. Bon Om Touk also features boat races, fireworks, and a full moon celebration. The boat races take place in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, and the races draw in large crowds from across the country. One boat race features long and skinny boats that hold up to one hundred people, with each boat representing a single village or community. Since Angkorian times, which spanned from the early 9th to the 15th century, Bon Om Touk has been nationally celebrated in Cambodia. There are many traditions practiced throughout the country unique to individual communities, and one practice involves frying Sesbania flowers. The flowers are in bloom during the festival and are cooked in oil on a boat. Once fried, the flowers are placed back into the trees as an edible gift to the next boat that travels down the river.
Sesbania flowers are believed by experts to be native to tropical and monsoonal areas of Southeast Asia and North Africa. The exact origins of the flowers are unknown, but the plants have been growing wild since ancient times and have been naturalized worldwide due to natural spread and human migration. Sesbania plants are hardy and fast-growing, considered a weed in some world regions. The plants can grow in various soils, including wet, saline, to sandy, and are often found alongside rice paddies, rivers, marshes, and lakes. Today Sesbania flowers are still found growing wild and are cultivated on a small scale in Asia for sale in local markets. The flowers are sold in bunches and can be seasonally found in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, and the Philippines. The flowers can also be found in tropical Africa and regions of the Americas.