Why Are the Chinese So Crazy About Lotus Root?

Yunnan Lotus Root and Pork

  Yunnan Lotus Root and Pork

The question has multiple answers:

The lotus is a beautiful and functional plant that grows prolifically from the bottoms of rivers or ponds to a height of about a meter and a half.

Its leaves float on the surface of the water with large and lovely, colorful flowers of pink, white and yellow.

The lotus root is revered in China for its health benefits as well as its beauty  – containing a vast array of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. The lotus root itself is a long, round, beige vegetable that shows it’s star power when sliced into rounds that look like wagon wheels and its taste is a crunchy texture with a tangy-sweet flavor.

The small yellow lotus seeds of the seedpods are just as healthy and are usually found dried and cooked in sweet soups or fresh and added to stir-fries, even turned into teas, and other Traditional Chinese Medicine applications.

So there you have it…all the good reasons to enjoy lotus root.

Lotus Root

The lotus root dishes served in Beijing have inspired this dish. It’s been adapted to a Yunnan style with the addition of dried red chilli peppers. In some restaurants around Kunming it’s also served with diced green chillies (la jiao) to kick it up a notch in the spice area or you can add to the numbness of the spice with Sichuan peppercorns (prickly ash). It’s your choice.

Serves 4 with other dishes or for one person with steamed rice

 Ingredients for Yunnan Lotus Root and Pork

5-6 inch piece of lotus root, peeled and cut into ¼ inch or thinner slices and soaking water with 1 tablespoon of Chinese white rice vinegar

200 gram piece of pork (any cut – I recommend pork tenderloin), cut into thin slices

1 inch piece ginger, cut into matchstick slivers

1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons and ½ cup cornstarch

3 tablespoons and ½ cup cooking oil

2-5 dried red chillies, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

½ red pepper and ½ green pepper, diced

½ small carrot, cut into matchstick slivers

1 teaspoon Chinese chicken bouillon granules

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon sesame oil

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Allow lotus root to soak for 20 minutes, submerged a water/vinegar solution, while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients. This will prevent the lotus root from turning dark to keep the white color.

In a small bowl, mix together the pork, ginger, cooking wine, soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Set aside to marinate and tenderize for 15 minutes.

Heat the wok, add 3 tablespoons of oil and heat the oil. Carefully drop in the chillies and reduce the heat to low. The number of dried chillies you use will depend on the amount of spice you wish for the dish. When the chillies have infused the oil with aroma, remove them from the oil to a bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in the wok. Add the pork mixture and stir fry to cook the meat – about 5 minutes. Remove from the wok and place in the same bowl as the chillies.

Place the remaining cornstarch in a bowl and remove the lotus root from the water – no need to rinse off the slight vinegar taste. Lightly coat the slices of lotus root with cornstarch, shaking of the excess.

Reduce the heat to low and add 4-5 slices of lotus root at a time to the oil. Fry on either side until light golden brown – the slices will still be crunchy to the taste. Remove slices to the bowl and repeat until all of the slices are light golden brown.

In the remaining oil in the wok, add the garlic, red pepper and carrot and stir fry until crisp and cooked but still brightly colored – about 2 minutes. Add the pork, chillies, lotus root, chicken bouillon granules, and sesame oil and heat for 1 minute. Add cilantro and stir-fry for one more minute. Check the taste for the need to add salt.

Remove from the wok to a platter and serve while hot with steamed rice.

Eat and enjoy this delectable dish!

Yin/Yang Glyph

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About Roz Weitzman's World

Periodically in China since 2005 to research my cookbooks and travel in China and southeast Asia. Loving the experience. Want to keep in touch with my friends and family all over the world! I published my Chinese Cookbook called 'Roz Weitzman's World of Chinese Comfort Food'. This week I published my latest in my series of Chinese cooking called "Roz Weitzman's World of Yunnan Food". Please won't you scribble a thought or two. I really appreciate your comments! AND IF YOU SHOULD WISH TO REPOST MY RECIPES OR OTHER OF MY POSTS ON YOUR OWN BLOG, BE SO KIND AS TO POST A LINK BACK TO MY BLOG AND GIVE ME CREDIT FOR MY ORIGINAL WORK. MANY THANKS IN ADVANCE.

Posted on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, in Chinese Cookbook, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m living in Kunming and I can’t wait for your Yunnan cookbook! Also, do you think there is any chance I could buy lotus root when I am back in Europe? I suppose you have to be here to get the root in a form to use for cooking.

    • Hi Bobbi,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. I know that I can get lotus root in Toronto in the Chinese supermarket. If not perhaps in my local downtown Chinatown. On Friday night, I cooked 6 Yunnan dishes with my Yunnan friends. I am so excited to be able to write these recipes. Now I may have more than 30 recipes which will make a great cookbook when I am done collecting.

      I will write you privately and perhaps we can get together. Regards, Roz

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