Lotus Root

Photo: Danny Kim. Illustration by John Burgoyne.

Lotus root, the crisp, mildly sweet aquatic plant that’s ubiquitous in stir-fries and fried into chips, has traditional significance on Chinese New Year, as it’s said to allow new ventures to take root and grow. Annisa chef Anita Lo plans to stuff the root’s characteristic holes with lotus-seed purée as dessert on her New Year’s menu February 2 and 3. Here she shares a simplified version of her recipe for home cooks hoping for an auspicious Year of the Rabbit.

Anita Lo’s Lotus Root With Lotus Seeds

2 segments lotus root, available at 88 Natural Food, 88 Mulberry St.
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. of salt, plus pinch
1 cup dried lotus seeds
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice

(1) Peel and remove ends of lotus root. Place roots and sugar in a small, deep pot with a pinch of salt and 2½ cups of water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until roots are soft but slightly crunchy. Cool. Split the dried lotus seeds and discard the bitter green centers. Place the cleaned lotus seeds in a separate pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer until very soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, then purée in a food processor with vanilla, ½ teaspoon of salt, and a little of the lotus-root cooking liquid, adding more liquid as needed to achieve a very smooth, pipable consistency. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, and (2) pipe into lotus-root holes, then chill the roots and the cooking liquid. To serve, add lemon juice to cooking liquid, (3) slice roots into rounds, and drizzle with cooking liquid.

Lotus Root