Lotus root is known as 蓮藕 (Lián ǒu) in Mandarin and renkon in Japanese. It is the root system of the lotus plant and is crispy with a slightly sweet taste, much like the water chestnut in texture but more fibrous.
The flowers, stems and leaves of this plant are visible above the water whilst the root system grows in the muddy recesses of the pond. In poems and songs of many Asian cultures, the lotus represents elegance, beauty, perfection, purity and grace. The aspiration of ideal feminine attributes. Thanks Donald for sharing such a beautiful photo with me to post for my readers.
The above image of fresh lotus root covered in mud is taken from cinnamoncurls.blogspot.sg
In stark contrast to the beauty of the flowers and leaves above the pond waters, freshly harvested lotus roots are covered in sticky black mud. Yet….under all that dirt, you see purity of the root itself.
In some of our local wet markets, they are still sold in this manner. These tend to be fresher than those which are sold to you cleaned and washed. In the old days, the helpers in my father’s home used a utility knife to scrape away the mud over old newspapers. Then, the root and knife are wiped clean with more pieces of old newspapers before they scrub and wash the root. The knife is used yet again to scrape away the thin speckled skin revealing a cornsilk white of the cleaned lotus root, already for slicing.
Nutritional and health benefits ( summairsed from http://recipeclout.india-server.com/lotus-root.html)
- presence of a good amount of vitamin C
- good amount of Potassium which is essential for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles.
- Rich in dietary fiber, important for regulating blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
- Juice extracted from raw, finely grated lotus root is highly recommended for treating lung-related ailments, such as tuberculosis, asthma, and coughing. It also helps in reducing the risk of heart disease, by increasing energy and neutralizing toxins.
- Far back of the photo above. Groundnuts (larger type for soup), rock salt and white peppercorns.
- Centre. Sliced cleaned lotus root and one section of the root before the speckled skin has been scraped off. Pork spare ribs are next.
- Foreground. Goji berries on the left; sliced and seeded red dates on the right.
Some comments about preparation of Ingredients
1. Ground-nuts. Wash and soak ground-nuts (the larger ones from China are used to make soup) in a bowl of tap water for at least 6 hours or in bowl with boiling water and covered for 3 hours. Easiest to soak it overnight for cooking the next day.
2. Chinese herbs. Give them a quick rinse with tap water.
3. Blanch the pork ribs with just enough hot boiling water to cover ribs for 10 mins. This step makes a much clearer and cleaner tasting soup.
Some comments about Cooking with a Thermal Pot
If your family members are keen on soups (both western or Chinese soups) to accompany their meal, may I suggest purchasing a good quality thermal pot which is also excellent for braised dishes and stews? Stretch the cost of LPG and electricity whilst saving time since you don’t have to keep watch the stove. Neither would you have to worry about food burning on the stove! Some comments about a using a thermal pot are found in Cooking 101 – Pork Stock, link given above.
Serves 4 to 6 persons
- 300 gms of lotus root (wash thoroughly, gently scrape the skin and slice not more than 5 mm thick. Discard the points between the sections)
- 300 gms of pork spare ribs (butcher may also suggest other types of pork bones for soup)
- 8 to 10 Chinese Red Dates, remove seeds and slice
- 100 gms raw groundnuts (large ones suitable for soup, soak for about 2 hours in hot water to reconstitute)
- 800 ml water ( if thermal pot is not used, increase water by 200 ml).
Optional (increase water to 1 litre)
- 4 pieces dried cuttlefish (wash and soak to reconstitute. Remove central “bone” and cut into quarters)
- Salt to taste
1. Prepare each ingredient as explained above.
2. Heat thermal pot with 800 ml of water and bring it to rapid boil. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover pot and bring to pot and contents to rapid boil again. Reduce heat and continue rapid simmering for 15 minutes.
3. Lower thermal pot into the outer cover and close it. Leave thermal pot to continue cooking in the outer cover for 1.5 hours. Take thermal pot to re-heat for 10 mins over medium heat and replace it into the outer cover for another hour or so. Add salt to taste before serving with rice or noodles.
Quick meal.This soup is a good accompaniment for One Dish Meals like
1. Chinese Fried Rice Click here ;
2. Yellow Fried Noodles Click here ;
3. Dry Mee Tai Mak Click here.
Expecting company? Depending on the number of people and their dietary preference, suggestions of other dishes to serve are listed below. HINT: Try to use those ingredients that are currently in the fridge, freezer or larder. A sample weekly marketing checklist can be found here, click.
1. Dry Assam Seafood. Click here
2. Fried Fish with Fermented Black Bean Sauce. Click here.
3. Stuffed You Tiao (Baked). Click here.
1. Beef Rendang (spicy). Click here
2. Singapore Curry Chicken (spicy). Click here.
3. Chicken Breasts with ketchup. Click here.
4. Paper-wrapped Chicken (Baked). Click here.
1. Broccoli and Meat/Tofu Stir Fry. Click here.
2. Spinach in Broth with 3 types of eggs. Click here.
3. Pork, Spinach and Egg Stir Fry. Click here.
4. Shanghai Cabbage with Oyster Sauce & Garlic. Click here.
A plate of cold, freshly cut seasonal fruits is always appropriate. Perhaps you had time to make a dessert like one of the 2 listed below? Either of them is most suited to our hot tropical climate.
1. Almond Jelly + Longans Click here.
2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.
3. Sweet Potato Dessert Soup. Click here.
4. Sago Pudding. Click here.
5. Orange Agar Agar. Click here