Several years ago, when I was in Japan for a family vacation, I discovered lotus root. It was served to us for breakfast at a large hotel buffet in Tokyo, and it had the most interesting texture and flavor. I had never eaten lotus root before that meal, and after coming home, I began a multi-year quest to locate this unusual vegetable back in the U.S.
I recently found pre-packaged lotus root in a large Japanese grocery store on the outskirts of New York City and immediately bought up several packs to bring home as valued treasure. I was anxious to recreate the dish I had experienced so many years earlier. However, after I brought it home, I discovered I could readily order it through the internet…so much for my multi-year adventure.
In any case, now that I had my key ingredient, the next order of business was to figure out how to cook it. For this I turned to one of my trusty “go-to” Japanese cookbooks, Japanese Cooking A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji to get ideas. I found a recipe for stir fried carrots and burdock root and modified it for my kitchen.
Lotus grows in water and is commonly used in a number of Asian cuisines. It has a delicate crunchy texture that I find to be similar to a water chestnut. In this dish, I’ve combined it with carrots and stir-fried it quickly with a simple brown sauce made from low sodium soy sauce, sake (Japanese rice wine) and a little sugar. This dish makes an interesting side dish to put with grilled chicken or fish, or could be a simple low calorie lunch, breakfast or unusual appetizer before a larger meal.
Carrot and Lotus Root Stir Fry (serves 4)
- 1 cup baby carrots, sliced in quarters
- 1 package lotus root (5.2 oz.), rinsed
- 1 Tbsp. superfine sugar
- 2 Tbsp. sake
- 2 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. seven spice pepper mix (Shichimi Togarashi)*
- 1 green scallion
*Can substitute ground pepper flakes
1. Heat a large skillet or wok on high.
2. Add carrots and 2 Tbsp. water, cover and let cook for 5-7 minutes until soft, stirring periodically,
3. Add lotus root and stir.
4. Sprinkle sugar across vegetables, add sake and soy sauce, and stir to blend.
5. Season with seven spice pepper mix and stir until all vegetables are hot and cooked through.
6. Garnish with sliced green scallions, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 0 grams transfat; 0 mg cholesterol; 380 mg sodium; 12 grams carbohydrate; 2 grams dietary fiber; 1 gram protein (values are approximate).