Lotus root is a plant stand that can grow up to four feet long. It has beautiful flowers that are used in various cultures for all sorts of things, even as a medicine within Chinese culture.
A powder made from drying and grinding the roots and is boiled with water to make a thick paste. This has medicinal purposes as well, and it’s really soothing on your stomach.
What is great about lotus root is that it can be deep fried, braised, steamed, boiled, or stir fried, and it usually comes out with a tender but crisp texture. It can be prepared in lots of different ways, and if you are experimenting with how you cook it, it should still taste pretty good and the texture should still turn out pleasing.
The texture can be compared to taro root, as it is somewhat creamy and a bit starchy.
Sometimes, the seeds from the lotus root are boiled and made into a paste, and that’s added to sweets like daifuku or mooncakes. You can even use the leaves or the petals of the lotus plant to make a variety of dishes.
It’s best to purchase lotus root in the fall, when it tends to be freshest and most readily available. However, you can find it all year round. When purchasing lotus root, try to search for one that isn’t bruised and has no soft, tender spots. It should be firm and somewhat heavy.
How to Prepare Lotus Root
To prepare lotus root for cooking, you want to peel the stem and then soak it in vinegar. This keeps the color preserved. Sometimes, lotus root is sold in a liquid solution of salt and water, and it tends to already be sliced and ready to cook with.
Lotus root is considered a tuber, similar to potatoes, taro roots, and other starchy vegetables. Most commonly, it is stir fried or boiled. This gives it a slightly crunchy texture on the outside and tender texture on the inside. It doesn’t have a lot of taste though, and I would consider it to be quite mild. Most people will cook it up with oyster sauce, soy sauce, or wine to give it some added flavor, using these liquid flavorings generously.
How to Clean Lotus Root
You definitely want to wash and clean lotus root before you cook it. If it is packaged in a water and salt solution and already sliced, then it just needs to be rinsed off. Wash lotus root under cold running water to clean it, rubbing off any dirt and other debris that might be on it.
You can then pat it dry before cooking it up in a frying pan or using whatever other cooking method you want to.
How to peel lotus root so it’s ready to cook? The skin is really bitter and tannic, and you want to get rid of that outer skin. The light flesh color skin tells you which part needs to be removed. The interior is white, and you want to peel away that older skin until all of the lotus root that remains is white. You can peel it similarly to a raw potato. A vegetable peeler works well at removing the skin, and once the lotus root has been peeled, the flesh may start to darken very soon.
How to Grow Lotus Root
I would like to share with you a few tips for growing lotus root if you want to have your own at home. Make sure that you put it in a pot that has no holes and that the pot is big enough to accommodate the lotus root easily. Be really careful with the lead growth tip of the lotus, as that will be where a lot of the growth comes from. You don’t want to accidentally damage it. Use planting soil to cover just a little bit of the tuber, and then add a little water onto the growing tip. Let the lotus root sit in full sunlight and fertilize it as soon as you start seeing leaves appear.
How to Eat Lotus Root
Did you know that when potatoes were first introduced as a food, most people refuse to eat them because they were so tough? Lotus root is similarly quite tough, and it needs to be cooked thoroughly until it is tender.
No matter which method you’re using to cook lotus root, you should cook it until it starts to change color and becomes somewhat translucent. That’s when you know it’s done cooking and is tender enough to eat.
How to Store Lotus Root
Lotus root can be stored in the fridge for about a week if it is placed into a plastic bag that isn’t tied too tightly. If you sliced and washed off the lotus root already, you can put it in an airtight container in the fridge and keep it there for about four days.
How to Cook Frozen Lotus Root
If you purchased lotus root frozen or froze it yourself, you may be wondering how to use lotus root that has been frozen. Does it need to be thawed out first? Remember that lotus root should be cooked before you eat it. It’s tough when not cooked thoroughly, and depending on how you’re cooking it, you may want to thaw it if it is frozen.
It can be put into a pot of boiling water from frozen, baked in the oven, or boiled without bothering to thaw it out first. It might not be a good idea to stir fry it if it’s frozen, especially if you’re using oil. The melting ice can make the hot oil spatter everywhere, creating a dangerous cooking environment.
Even if this is a food that you’re not very familiar with, there are plenty of uses for it, and it’s not that difficult to work with. Think of it a lot like a potato, but it’s often used in dishes like lotus root curry or stir fries. I may come back later with an article on how to make lotus root curry or other dishes that utilize this route in interesting ways.
Try using it the same way as you would a potato and see how it works for you, giving your dishes a slightly different flavor and texture than if you were using potatoes.