In addition to their colorful, fragrant garden blooms, many varieties of lily are also edible and are common additions to Asian cuisine. Tiger lilies, leopard lilies, and day lilies all have edible bulbs and are relatively easy to grow. The flowers and leaves can be eaten in soups and salads, and lily bulbs make an interesting variation to onions or potatoes in stir-fries, soups, and meat and vegetable dishes. Lily bulbs are also used in Chinese medicine for coughs and congestion.
Slice the tops and bottoms off the bulbs. Break the sections apart into thin, petal-like slices and wash off any dirt that remains inside the sections. Slice the bulbs into smaller pieces, if desired. Set the bulbs aside.
Cook the bulbs as little as possible to retain their flavor and crispness. In stir-fries with vegetables or meat, toss the lily bulbs into the mix just for the last few minutes of cooking.
Add lily bulbs to soups after the other ingredients are fully cooked, stir for a few minutes, and remove from the heat.
Eat fried lily bulbs plain or as a topping for toast. Finely chop a clove of garlic. Heat 2 tsp. of butter or oil to medium high, then add the garlic and the bulbs. Cook them for three to five minutes until they start to turn golden. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the fried bulbs on toast and eat them warm or cold.
Store lily bulbs in the fridge to maintain freshness. If you bought the bulbs at the market, they usually come packaged in vacuum-sealed bags. The bulbs will keep for several weeks in the fridge if the bags stay sealed. You can also store them, untrimmed and unwashed, in a re-sealable plastic bag. Eat them before the ends become too soft, usually within two weeks.