Lotus Root

Dsc00561I love lotus root.  There is a fish market on the eastern end of Long Island and he makes a great lotus root salad.  The lotus root at Matsuri should be packaged and bought by the pound.  It is crunchy and delicious.  About 2 weeks ago in the NYTimes, the recipe for Matsuri's lotus root was in the Dining Section (my favorite section of the week).  I was thrilled. 

So the hunt for lotus root began.  I started at Citarella, no.  I went to Whole Foods, nope.  They only carry is on occasion and it doesn't turn fast enough.  I tried M and M which is an asian market on 3rd and 12th.  They looked at me like I had 2 heads when I asked for lotus root.  Now we were on a mission.  We took off for China town.  There is a big vegetable market on the corner of Christy and 2nd Avenue right near the F train stop.  I asked the woman if they had lotus root.  She just shook her head.  Lucky enough there was a huge empty box behind her that was clearly marked in big black letters, LOTUS ROOT.  I pointed, she nodded.  They had plenty.  Yes!  Big score.  We picked up about 4 lbs for about $4. 

Then we wandered into a few other stores down there.  I got a large bottle of rice wine vinegar for $1.50 and a huge bottle of dark soy sauce for $2.95.  I threw in some bags of sesame seeds, white and black, that were only 75 cents each.  The savings are incredible in Chinatown.  I love shopped there.  The only frustration down there, or you could call it humorous or fascinating is that very few people in the stores speak English.  Here we are in NYC, and people can literally survive in a small section of the city called Chinatown and never learn the English language.  It's wild. 

We hurried home and started our dish.  It is pretty easy.  4 lbs is out of control, go for 2 lbs.  If you are adventurous, just double the recipe. 

  • 2 lbs lotus root, trimmed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup sake
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (I used 1 tablespoon regular, 1 tablespoon dark)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped red chili pepper ( I used dried )
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (toasted them in a small non-stick pan on the stove)

Cut the lotus root crosswise about 1/4 thick.  Soak in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, do this a few times until the water drains clear.  Dry. 

In a non-stick skillet heat up the sesame oil.  It heats up very quick.  Add the lotus roots and toss for about a minute or so, until they are covered.  Add the sake, sugar, soy sauce and chilli pepper.  Stir continuously until the sauce is reduced and thick.  This took longer than the recipe said.  It took me about 10 minutes but it does happen.  Be patient. 

Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds and voila.  Eat them warm or room temperature or cold for that matter.  They were still good days later. 

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Joanne Wilson Joanne Wilson loves food, books, and music. She lives in New York City. Her husband Fred and children Jessica, Emily, and Josh are bloggers too. More »

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