I’ve loved magnolia trees ever since I was a child visiting my grandmother’s cottage in spring and seeing the beautiful Magnolia soulangeana in bloom in her garden. There seem to be a lot of magnolia trees where we live – I feel very lucky to be able to walk down nearby streets and see them showing off their huge blossoms. I’ve always loved this fleeting season with the grand white flowers, their blushes of pink standing proudly on each branch, and their petals gradually fluttering down to the ground. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve come to learn not only that they’re edible, but just how varied, versatile and delicious they are.
Magnolia petals are known for their floral, slightly ginger-like flavour that is good for pickling. However, there is a lot of variation in flavour depending on the type of magnolia, as well as the stage of flowering. Some of the paler species have a more floral flavour that is best for drying for tea, whereas those with the darker pink flowers might be more punchy, peppery and have a more pronounced ginger flavour. If you pick the flowers just as they’re about to unfurl, they are at their peak for using in the kitchen, before they mature and their flavour becomes bitter. It’s a case of trying different types at different times to see what you like best and what will work best in different recipes.
The fresh, clean ginger flavour of magnolia inspired these mushroom gyoza. I learned to make these Japanese dumplings when I stayed with a family in Tokyo and we spent a fun evening filling and folding, filling and folding, until we had a plateful to feast on! They are traditionally made with pork and cabbage, but you can play around with the fillings, and mushrooms work really well for a veggie/vegan alternative especially combined with umami seasonings like miso and soy, and a healthy dose of wild garlic. Of course you can switch the magnolia petals for fresh ginger too.
Wild Garlic, Mushroom, and Magnolia Petal Gyoza Recipe
- 350g Mushrooms, finely chopped
- Handful Wild garlic, finely chopped (or one clove of garlic, crushed)
- 1 freshly picked magnolia bud (or a thumb of fresh ginger, finely chopped)
- Gyoza wrappers (see Tip below)
- 1 tbsp Groundnut/vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp Soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Mirin
- 1 tsp Miso
- 1/4 tsp Sesame oil
- Rice vinegar
- Soften the mushrooms in a pan in a small amount of oil. Mix in the soy sauce, mirin, and miso and continue cooking until combined. Take off the heat and add the sesame oil. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before combining with the wild garlic and magnolia petals.
- Shape your gyoza. Put a tablespoon of your mushroom mixture in the centre of the gyoza wrapper. Using you finger, wet one side of the wrapper with water before joining the two sides together. Pinch out any air and crimp the wrapper to keep the filling inside.
- Heat some more oil in a sauté pan which has a lid. Place your gyoza in the pan and leave to fry without turning for a few minutes until the bottoms have started to turn crisp and golden.
- Pour a generous splash of water into the pan and quickly cover with the lid to allow the gyoza to steam.
- Serve the gyoza with a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce and rice vinegar.
Gyoza wrappers can be bought from Asian supermarkets and the Japan Centre sell them online too. If you fancy having a go at making them from scratch, there’s a tutorial here on the Just One Cookbook blog. Nami’s website is pretty much my bible for all Japanese recipes!
Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments and as always feel free to tag me on Instagram @plotandlane if you give this recipe a try!
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