Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lotus Root

Lotus root is from the lotus plant and is related to the water lily. 
It thrives in shallow water. The plant has beautiful flowers and leaves above water and beneath the water is the root portion, the subject of this post. 
 Lotus root is one of the 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die. It is often eaten raw and is supposed to have a sweet starchy taste like a raw potato. 
It is also added to soups and stews, tempura, ground into flour, dried and candied. The air chambers that run through the root create a beautiful pattern 
which makes it an artistic ingredient to salads or as a garnish. 
Chefs also stuff the holes with meat or rice. I tried the lotus root in a number of different ways. Raw, I found it very, very starchy, almost like Styrofoam and woody. I can definitely see the comparison to a raw potato, except to the extent the one I ate was very woody to the point that I spit out the pith. I read that the outer skin was inedible, so I peeled off the skin and ate some more and found it still extremely woody. 
I baked some in an oven along with some other food and found that most of the woodiness was removed, although it did not have much taste. Then I tried frying some in olive oil, 
adding dried shrimp and egg and the crunchiness and woodiness were entirely removed. 
It still did not have much taste, and was like a stiff, thick noodle. I'm sure the lotus root I got was probably old and I'll have to give it another try. 

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