Nelumbo Nucifera (Holy Lotus)
The lotus plant grows in ponds with the flowers, stems and leaves above the water and the root below the water. The roots are rhizomes; plant stems that grow horizontally under or along the ground and often send out roots and shoots. New plants develop from the shoots. The lotus plant is in full bloom in summer. The roots are typically harvested from autumn to winter. Every part of the plant (flowers, stamens, seeds, leaves and the roots) can be used in cooking. In Asia, the petals are sometimes used for garnish, while the large leaves are used as a wrap for food, not frequently eaten (for example, as a wrapper for zongzi). In Korea, the leaves and petals are used as a tisane. Yeonkkotcha (연꽃차) is made with dried petals of white lotus and yeonipcha (연잎차) is made with the leaves. Young lotus stems are used as a salad ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. The rhizome called ǒu (藕) in pinyin Chinese, ngau in Cantonese, bhe in Hindi, renkon (レンコン, 蓮根 ) in Japanese, yeongeun (연근 ) in Korean, is used as a vegetable in soups, deep-fried, stir-fried, and braised dishes and the roots are also used in traditional Asian herbal medicine. Petals, leaves, and rhizome can also all be eaten raw, but there is a risk of parasite transmission it is therefore recommended that they be cooked before eating.
Some cool lotus (root) facts & health benefits of lotus (root):
- In Japan, renkon is one of the root vegetables used in tempura and kinpira style cooking. Its slices are sautéed in soy sauce, mirin (rice wine) and chili peppers. Lotus root chips are popular snacks in Japan.
- The root, popularly known as kamal kakari or bhe in India and Bangladesh, is features in variety of curry, stews, and stir-fries.
- Chinese use the root in soups, stuffing, stir-fries, etc. especially in Cantonese style cooking.
- In China, lotus seeds are eaten as snacks, in condiments and as candied.
- Lotus root is often added to a dish to help balance the oiliness and richness of fatty cuts. It is crunchy even after long hours of cooking and it does not have a strong flavour.
- The root can also be juiced raw together with radish to make a vegetable juice mix that help to alleviate internal bleeding in the stomach.
- The lotus root stops diarrhea, clears heat and improve appetite.
- Lotus roots contain much iron, vitamins B & C (100 g root provides 44 mg or 73% of daily-recommended values).
- The rich fibre content of lotus roots stimulates peristalsis and relieves constipation. Drinking 2 to 3 glasses of lotus root juice a day can stop bleeding of the esophagus an stomach (vomiting blood); bleeding of the rectum, intestines or stomach (blood in feces); nose bleeding or gum bleeding. Lotus root soup also serves similar purposes.
- Patients with high fever can drink lotus root drink cold, while those with steady temperature should drink it warm
- Lotus root is one of low calorie root vegetables. 100 g root provides 74 calories.
- Lotus rhizome is very good source of dietary fibers; 100 g flesh provides 4.9 g or 13% of daily-requirement of dietary fiber. The fiber, together with slow digesting complex carbohydrates in the root help reduce blood cholesterol, sugar, body weight and constipation conditions.
As you know, I had a lotus root, to be spend quickly. Too lazy to make chips out of it (and not really a lot of oil in stock), I checked all my cooking-books and none of them had a lotus-root-recipe in them! I continued my search online where I stumbled upon lots of beautiful recipes but I challenged myself to make something filling, simple, with all the ingredients I did have in stock, without having to buy anything. Online I figured out that as long as you precook the root in some acidulated water, you can basically do anything with it,
SO HERE’S MY RECIPE:
- Peel the lotus-root and cut into slices. Aren’t they beautiful?
- To avoid the root from getting dark, immediately place the slices in a pan of water to which you’ve added 2 teaspoons of vinegar. I immediately turned the fire on so the water could heat, while cutting the rest of the slices.
- Cook for about 20 minutes (Some recipes say 2 min., but this root was a few days old and was still crunchy after 20 min) and don’t throw the water after draining it.
- Bring a liter of water to the boil in a separate pan or in a water-cooker
- Clean 3 cloves of garlic, 2 small or 1 big onion(-s) and 2 “thumbsizes” of ginger
- Chop the onions in small pieces and fry them in sunflower oil & a bit of real butter
- when the onion is almost done, add the garlic cut in thin slices
- dd the ginger, while grating it roughly into the pan, lower the fire for the garlic not to burn, stir the spices, breathe in well. (If you have a cold, this beautiful smell should open you up!)
- Add half a teaspoon of sugar, a little bit of salt and grind some pepper roughly into the pan
- Add 4 cups of rice (for 3 or 4 people. I generally don’t measure much in the kitchen, but guess on feeling, you can change the recipe on feeling to your own liking), stir well so all flavours mix with the rice, make sure nothing burns
- Add the liquid the lotus-root has been cooked in, stir well, add the cooked lotus-root slices
- Add some of the boiled water, stir well. Turn the fire low and guess if the pan has enough liquid, stir every once in a while, try a grain or rice (Ever made a risotto before? It’s all about feeling & practise! I can’t guide you too much here, just try!), the object is to get the rice done without burning and without getting too mushy. Mushy rice is not tasty. You might not need the full litre of water. Make some tea of the rest.
- The last bit of water will dissolve when you shut off the pan, close it with the lid and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then you should have the perfect al dente texture, with a beautiful bouquet of Asian flavours.
- Sorry, forgot to make a pic, but please send me yours!
F.Y.I.; My improvised Lotus-root-rice has been tried by a Thai lady who approved it. She said it tasted Thai because of the flavours, although in Thailand she never tried Lotus root as or in a main dish, only sweet as dessert. Looking forward to her recipe!