Lotus Roots for A Flavorful Winter

The use of lotus root as food has a history of three to five thousand years in Chinese cookery. Being a common ingredients used in autumn and winter dishes, lotus root is frequently used by cooks especially in Anhui province in south eastern China to make appetizers, soups, stir-fry dishes and desserts.

The underwater lotus root can be up to 4 feet long. It looks like a solid-link chain with 8-inch lengths, each about 3 inches in diameter. It has a reddish-brown skin that must be peeled before using. The lotus root's creamy-white flesh has the crisp texture of a raw potato and a flavor akin to fresh coconut. Besides the fresh form, it's also available canned, dried and candied. Lotus root is used as a vegetable as well as in sweet dishes.

The most well-known lotus root dish is Buddha’s delight, which is often transliterated as lo han jai or lo hon jai. It is a vegetarian dish traditionally made of 18 ingredients, and served on the first day of the Chinese New Year. As suggested by its name, it is a dish traditionally enjoyed by Buddhist monks who are vegetarians, but has also grown in popularity throughout the world as a common dish available in Chinese restaurants. Common ingredients include: nappa cabbage, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, dried or fried tofu, lotus roots, bamboo shoots, wood ear fungus, and ginkgo nuts.

Sliced lotus root with green oninion and chili on top: serve as a starter dish.