I spied these lotus root (Nelumbo nucifera) segments at the market this morning and despite the fact that I have never cooked with them before, I thought they would make for an interesting post, so I bought some. Actually a rhizome (thickened stem) rather than a root, they look like firm links of sausages (photos here are of individual links). Each â€œsegmentâ€ should be washed very well then peeled and sliced thinly to expose a fabulous internal pattern like cut-outs or large lace. They certainly look incredibly interestingâ€¦ Soak them in acidulated water (water with lemon or kalamansi) as soon as you have peeled and sliced them as they have a very quick tendency to turn brownishâ€¦Often used in Chinese and Japanese cooking, this relative of the common water lilies or lotuses is really more of flavor â€œcarrier,â€ since it doesnâ€™t really seem to have much flavor on its own.
While some food writers describe it as having a hint of artichokes or a bit of water chestnut, liken it to jicama or singkamas even, I find that it is crisp, refreshing but almost tasteless. In fact, the visual appeal seems far more interesting than the flavor aspectsâ€¦ Nevertheless, they are great in soups, salads, tempura, custards, etc. in that they bring a unique touch to the dishes. I most often see them in Chinese stir fries and I was also intrigued by the idea of using thin slices in a classic miso soupâ€¦ Now that I have located the lotus root, I wonder if anyone sells lotus leaves so I can experiment with a â€œBeggarâ€™s Chickenâ€ recipeâ€¦ At PHP250 a kilo, these two root segments cost roughly PHP65; a bit pricey, but a little goes a long wayâ€¦