The lotus root is a popular ingredient throughout Asia, delicious stir-fried in sesame oil or eaten raw. It looks like a cross between a swede and a carrot in shape, but what does the lotus root taste like? In this guide, we’ll look at this vegetable’s flavor, texture, and uses in cooking.
What does lotus root taste like?
The lotus root has a crisp, fibrous texture and a mild taste with a slightly bitter undertone. It is excellent for absorbing the flavors of other ingredients in the recipe. The holes in the root add visual appeal to any dish, and store sauce in a similar way to tubular pasta.
Although the lotus root has a unique taste, it shares some similarities to the jicama, daikon, chestnut, coconut, and Asian pear.
How to prepare a lotus root
Prepping your lotus root is a simple process; you’ll need a peeler and a sharp knife to get started.
- Rinse the root under cold water and then chop off the ends.
- Discard any joint sections if your root has any.
- Use a peeler to remove the skin, exposing the white flesh underneath.
- Slice the root into pieces roughly ¼” in thickness.
- To stop the slices browning, splash with some lemon juice or drop them into a vinegar bath.
How to choose a lotus root
Choosing a healthy, fresh root is the first step in plating up the perfect lotus root. Look for firm, plump specimens that are free from marks, bruises, or soft, mushy sections.
5 options for cooking lotus root
Although the lotus root isn’t a root vegetable, it performs like one in the kitchen. It is a versatile ingredient that can be eaten raw or cooked in a range of ways including stir-frying, baking, boiling, or microwaving.
Method 1: Raw
Eating the lotus root raw is perfectly fine so long as you have a younger lotus root. The mature ones become tougher and more fibrous.
Eat your root on its own or try dipping in gochujang for a burst of heat. The root is also delicious added raw to salads.
Method 2: Stir fry
Unlike some vegetables that become soggy once cooked, this root maintains its crispy texture making it perfect for stir-fries. You can use flavorsome sauces like black bean, yakisoba, or Szechuan and the flavor will absorb into the root.
How to cook: To stir fry lotus root slice into thin pieces and cook on med-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Other vegetables that taste great with lotus include broccoli, snow peas, celery, asparagus, and chili peppers.
Method 3: Boil
If you’re trying to reduce your fat intake, then boiling is a great option. You can use boiled lotus root in a bowl of mixed greens or douse it in soy sauce and chili flakes served over rice.
How to cook: Bring a pot of water and a splash of vinegar to the boil. Add ¼” slices of the root to the water and boil for 5 minutes, then drain and serve.
Method 4: Bake
Baking lotus root results in a nice crispy exterior and seals in the seasonings.
How to cook: Slice the root into ¼” pieces and layer onto a lined baking tray. Coat with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, flip them over, then bake for a further 10-15 minutes until tender.
Method 5: Microwave
The microwave provides convenience if you’re in a hurry and the result isn’t much different than boiling them.
How to cook: Add a damp paper towel to a plate then layer slices of lotus root on the towel. Cover with another damp towel and heat on high for 2 minutes. Check the lotus root and if needed, continue cooking in 30-second increments until tender.
Other uses for lotus root
- Dry in a dehydrator then grind into flour.
- Slice thinly and dry, then make candied lotus.
- Use as a dessert garnish.
- Add to a sweet dish like ice cream or fruit salad.
- Make tasty snacks by deep-frying.
- Pickle the root then preserve.
Lotus Root Chips
- ½ pound lotus root
- 2 Tbsp peanut oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- Peel and trim the lotus root ends then slice into ⅛″ pieces. Transfer them to a bowl of water with 2 Tbsp of vinegar to keep them from going brown.
- Add oil to a shallow pan and heat on med-high. Once the oil has warmed, strain the lotus root slices and dry, then add to the pan. Make sure there is space between each piece.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes until the roots are browned on the bottom, then flip and cook the other side. Add more oil if necessary and reduce heat if the roots are cooking on the outside too fast.
- Use tongs to transfer the lotus root chips to a paper towel or brown paper and sprinkle with salt. Enjoy these chips hot.
Lotus root soup
- 3 cups lotus root, sliced
- 3 cups carrot, cut into large cubes
- 10 Chinese mushrooms, soaked for 2 hours then sliced
- 7 water chestnuts, shelled and halved
- 2 Tbsp ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Add one gallon (4 liters) of water to a large pot along with all the ingredients.
- Boil for 2 hours then serve.
Frequently asked questions
Can lotus root be eaten raw?
The lotus root is excellent eaten raw on its own or added to salads. Avoid the mature roots which are more fibrous.
How long does it take to cook lotus root?
To stir fry lotus root slice into thin pieces and cook on med-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Boiling a chopped root takes 4-5 minutes.
How to store lotus root?
To store fresh lotus roots, wash and then cut off the ends about ¼ inch (½ cm) from segment joints. Put in a sealed plastic bag with water and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Fast facts about the lotus roots
- The scientific name for the lotus root is the Nelumbo nucifera. It is also known as the Indian lotus or sacred lotus. It is a part of the Nelumbonaceae family.
- They are commonly used in stir-fries and kinpira. The root is popular for its taste, crunchy texture, and unique appearance.
- The lotus root is high in vitamin C, thiamin, and roboflavin.
- The edible root can grow up to four feet underwater and is part of the lotus flower. Its colorful petals and lily pads make it an easily recognizable plant.
- Once the root is sliced open it has a pattern inside that looks similar to an old-fashioned phone dialer.
The taste of lotus root is likely to appeal to most people, thanks to its crisp texture and mild taste. Like a zucchini or tofu, it is a useful ingredient for carrying the flavors of other foods. Aside from the flavor, lotus root is an eye-catching vegetable that will help you create a unique-looking meal.
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