In this instalment of Gateway to Gastronomy, we’ll be making a super simple side dish: braised lotus roots.
My first introduction to lotus roots was probably as an ingredient in Chongqing hotpot, but since then I’ve discovered that there are many ways to enjoy this odd-looking vegetable. In Chinese cuisine, it’s often found in soups or stir fries, but those often require more ingredients. In this recipe, only one major ingredient is needed!
Lotus roots (can be found at T&T Supermarket and other Asian grocery stores)
1-2 tbs vinegar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 tbs dark soy sauce
2-3 tbs sugar
2-3 tbs honey
White sesame seeds
Begin by washing the outside and peeling the skin. Sometimes lotus roots aren’t perfectly circular so use a metal spoon to scrape the difficult-to-peel areas.
Slice the lotus roots about 1 cm thick, and blanch them in water with vinegar for 10 minutes. This is supposed to help get rid of earthy tastes. After 10 minutes, drain the water and add fresh water — I used a saucepan.
To your pot, add both types of soy sauce. Dark soy sauce is typically used in Chinese cooking to add colour to the dish, which is why I only used a tablespoon. Add sugar and honey as well, or you can substitute the honey with corn syrup. Let this simmer, covered, for about 20-30 minutes so the lotus roots cook through.
After simmering, uncover your pot and stir occasionally, allowing the liquid to reduce. Ideally, you’ll be left with a sticky, brownish-red glaze.
Plate up your lotus roots, drizzle some sesame oil, sprinkle some white sesame seeds on top, and enjoy! They should still be crunchy, but not overly hard. The texture is almost like an uncooked potato but much tastier. Since this is a side dish, serve it up with some rice for a simple lunch.
This dish is super simple to make. For a tiny bit more of a challenge, check out my earlier attempt at making braised pork belly (spoiler alert, it turned out pretty tasty!).