If you unexpectedly discover thin yellowish slices with a pretty pattern of holes in your Asian vegetables, don’t be surprised. No, they didn’t sneak Swiss cheese onto your plate; it’s more likely you’ve been served up some lotus root slices.
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Although the lotus flower’s rhizome is relatively uncommon in this country, it has been a popular vegetable in many parts of Asia for hundreds of years. Apart from its fancy appearance, it can also be prepared in a variety of ways and is really tasty.
Fresh, the roots (available from R&S Gourmet Express, by the way), which are peeled like potatoes before preparation, taste a bit like mild mushrooms, with a hint of sweetness. The creamy white roots are best cut into slices to show off the beautiful pattern of the trachea.
They can be added to soup or used in vegetable side dishes. High in starch, lotus root contains many vitamins and is rich in fiber. Sliced and cooked briefly, it has a pleasantly crunchy texture. When cooked longer, it tastes a bit like potatoes.
A small stroll through Asia proves just how versatile the lotus root is. For example, the vegetables are seared in oil in Japan and cooked in lemon water, preserved as spicy pickles in India or candied and eaten in China for New Year’s celebrations.
In addition to the root, the lotus flower blossom is also used for culinary purposes. In China, they make health-promoting teas from the sheath leaves. The tender petals are eaten as a leafy vegetable and the seeds are shelled and made into flour or eaten salted as a snack similar to pumpkin seeds.