Lotus Root (蓮藕)
The lotus root originates from tropical Asia, is the national flower of India and Vietnam, and goes by a variety of titles including ‘Indian lotus’, ‘sacred lotus’ and the ‘bean of India’. The history of the lotus root spans throughout the centuries in Asia, and has special significance within Buddhism. For Buddhists, the flower of the lotus root was considered a symbol of divine purity, and represented alongside many artistic representations of Buddha includes the lotus root flower.
Lotus roots are grown throughout the year, but are bountiful during autumn and winter. The bulbs of the lotus root can measure between 2-3 inches in diameter, and 8-10 inches lengthwise. The cross section shows a lacy pattern of a white interior, which has a crunchy texture.
In addition to the surplus symbolism of the lotus root and its flower, the lotus root is also used for medicinal purposes. The lotus root contains considerable amount of vitamins C and B6, and minerals such as copper, fiber and potassium. Often, lotus root is used within juice-based drinks as it is believed that the vegetable can help with stomach problems, lung-related issues and reduce the chance of heart disease.
To prepare the lotus root, one simply has to wash the vegetable well, discard of the necks between the bulbs, peel the outer skin and chop as desired. It must be noted that one should choose a lotus root that appears to have a firm texture without soft spots. If the lotus root is dark, do not choose, as this is an indicator of age. Lotus roots are incredible versatile vegetables within cooking, and is admired for its sweet taste and luscious texture. To cook, the lotus root can be baked, boiled or sautéed, and often within Cantonese cuisine the lotus root is stuffed. They can be eaten raw, as one would eat celery or carrot as a snack. They can also be included meals such as soups, stews, salads and stir-fries.