No, I am not referring to the gorgeous flower (as you can see in the pic)! It’s the stem of the plant, the lotus root that has recently shot up on my list of favorite ingredients to experiment with. This is what grows underneath and up out of the water, which results in the beautiful lotus flower at the end of it, an extremely edible and very popular vegetable in Asian countries.
As it suggests, lotus root is a root vegetable, with a hard exterior that must be peeled and with a crunchy, white interior. The cross section of the vegetable is beautiful – snowflake-like, and the flavor is mild and sweet – somewhere between jicama and a water chestnut. The flower and vegetable are grown throughout India, parts of tropical Asia as well as Australia, and the entire plant is edible, from the stamens to the leaves to the seeds.
The thing about them is that they are incredibly versatile! You can slice them thin, fry them and give potato chips a real run for their money. Steamed they are delicious – crisp, yet tender. They can be pickled, steeped in heavy cream or broth and puréed, braised, roasted, or stir-fried. They are very forgiving, take on flavors extremely well and maintain a great texture.
Although I believe you can find these canned, I like to pick these up fresh in NYC’s Chinatown…