24 Feb2007

Lotus Root

by Marketman


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 lotus2an 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 “segment” 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 interesting… 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 brownish…Often used in Chinese and Japanese cooking, this relative of the common water lilies or lotuses is really more of flavor “carrier,” since it doesn’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 lotus3almost tasteless. In fact, the visual appeal seems far more interesting than the flavor aspects… 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 soup… Now that I have located the lotus root, I wonder if anyone sells lotus leaves so I can experiment with a “Beggar’s Chicken” recipe… At PHP250 a kilo, these two root segments cost roughly PHP65; a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way…



  1. millet says:

    ooohhh..i’ve been looking for lotus root for a long time. i love the japanese way of slow-cooking it in a mixture of soysauce, mirin and sugar- it retains its crispness, takes on the flavor of the sauce, and is very good on top of hot steamed rice. i’ve also had this as tempura – it provides a very interesting textural contrast. my foster family in nagoya cooked lotus root in many ways. i hope i see some in the davao markets soon.

    Feb 24, 2007 | 10:15 pm


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  3. Maria Clara says:

    My lotus root excursion is limited to a Japanese restaurant tempura. The fat helps a lot in giving a layer of flavor in them dip in soy sauce and wasabi. They are indeed pricey! I am exposed to lotus seeds made out of paste as filling in sweet mochi with tikoy like skin steamed.

    Feb 25, 2007 | 4:26 am

  4. wil-b cariaga says:

    i’ve been looking for lotus root for a long time. . . where could i purchase some. . . their good for garnish. . . deep fried and added in appetizers. . . hmmm. . . .

    Feb 25, 2007 | 7:33 am

  5. connie says:

    I’ve only had lotus root two ways, first as a salad with ginger dressing and as tempura. I find it almost bland but dipping it in tentsuyu makes it taste better. Definitely absorbs the dipping sauce’s flavor better than any other veggies used in tempura, well eggplant also absorbs tentsuyu better as well.
    MM, your idea of mixing it in miso soup sounds inspired and rather good. A bit of change from the regular tofu, kelp and scallions found in most miso soup.

    Feb 25, 2007 | 12:25 pm

  6. Marketman says:

    Connie, a peanut dressing (Thai or Indonesian version) sounds like a great idea! Wil, I found the lotus root at the FTI market from a suki who sells Chinese ingredients. They also have a stall at Market!Market!. Maria Clara, now that you mention it, I can see how this would taste great as tempura with the soy dipping sauce with grated daikon radish. Millet, aha! I like that way of cooking it too…but I wouldn’t know how to do it…yes, I like that version…

    Feb 26, 2007 | 9:26 am

  7. Lou says:

    thank you lotus eaters! I finally have an idea of its taste from MArketMan and some helpful ways to prepare it. I’m dying to try this lotus root which I see so often in the Chinatown in Montreal.

    Mar 2, 2007 | 5:15 am

  8. M.E. says:

    Found it!!! At Whole Foods’ market produce department…depending on your area, either in bulk root form or, processed by peeling and slicing. Very pretty. I’ve heard that one can deep fry them as ‘chips’!

    Mar 8, 2007 | 10:14 am

  9. jules winnfield says:

    lotus eaters…. hehehe i’m so babaw. nice one lou.

    Mar 9, 2007 | 6:06 pm

  10. bottomsup says:

    Lotus roots can usually be found in the Carvajal Street market in Binondo… perhaps owing to its Chinese (if at all) origin?! My grandma (who’s also Chinese) usually just slices them and throws them in with a regular beef soup (bulalo-style). All the lotus roots’ flavors are then infused into the soup thus resulting in a tasteless lotus, but the soup… wow!!

    Have been reading this blog since only a week ago when I saw the feature on MM in Yummy Mag and haven’t been able to resist the temptation to put in my two cents’ worth =) Have also already compiled a selection of MM’s recipes! Go go go with that planned cookbook!

    Apr 26, 2007 | 5:22 pm


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