Root Vegetable

Lotus Root and 4 Ways to Use it

December 14, 2013

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more. 

Today: Even if Jack Frost isn’t nipping at your nose yet, you can still enjoy a slice of winter in your kitchen.

Lotus Root and How to Use it, from Food52

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When you were a kid, did you revel in catching snowflakes on your mitten to admire them? (We still do.) Were you determined to make the prettiest, most perfect cut-paper snowflakes? (Us too.) If so, it’s time to bring lotus root into your kitchen. While this root (technically a rhizome) might not look like much from the outside, it’s hiding a beautiful lacy interior that when sliced (3, below) reminds us of a snowflake. A tasty, crunchy, edible snowflake. The overachiever in you might like to know that the plant's flowers, leaves, and seeds are all edible, too.

More: Like produce that's hiding something? Try parsley root: it's the herb's dirty little secret.

Lotus Root and How to Use it, from Food52

Look for fresh lotus roots in a well-stocked Asian market. They should be firm and light brown (1); pass on any with soft spots, cracks, or blemishes. They might come linked together in a chain (2) like giant sausages -- if you purchase multiple sections, don’t separate the links. Store lotus root in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp cloth or paper towels in a plastic bag. They’re at their best when very fresh, but can be stored for a couple of weeks.

To prepare your root, peel it with a vegetable peeler first. Many preparations call for thin slices; if yours does, use a mandolin or sharp knife. Preserve their snowy white color by dropping cut slices in an acidulated water bath (4), and if you aren’t planning on cooking them, let them hang out there for awhile -- this has the added benefit of removing any potential bitter aftertaste.

Lotus Root and How to Use it, from Food52

Fry ‘Em Up
Think everything's better fried? Lotus root is no exception. Turn them into tasty root chips or try them as tempura. You can also use slices to hold a ground meat or vegetable filling (like a sandwich) and then pan- or deep-fry them. 

Get Brothy
Lotus root can be poached in dashi broth and packed in your lunch box, and it also works well in soups -- just be aware that the longer lotus root is cooked, the starchier and stickier it gets.

Go Crunchy
Lotus root can be stir-fried or sautéed -- it makes an excellent companion to burdock in kinpira. Try pickling slices (or smaller immature rootlets) or blanching them to use in a salad.

Or Sweet
Candy them and then use them in Diane Morgan’s upside-down lotus root cake, found in Roots, or stuff them with sweet black rice and serve them with honey and Greek yogurt.

Let it snow in your kitchen this week -- tell us how you’ll work lotus root into your meals!

Photos by James Ransom 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • john
  • Das_Muller
  • the totally not-foolish pucko
    the totally not-foolish pucko
  • YenWhite
  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


john October 31, 2018
There is nothing written here about boiling it before use. Fresh lotus root is NOT safe to eat without boiling the slices prior to storage (it will retain its crispness when you are ready to cook it). Because lotus root grows in the water it is very commonly infected with fluke parasites and eating it without properly cleaning the root puts you at a HIGH risk for liver and stomach flukes.
Lindsay-Jean H. October 31, 2018
I haven't heard that warning before. Lotus root shouldn't be eaten raw, and I would blanch them before using in a salad-type dish, but otherwise, I go straight from the lemon water or vinegar bath to whatever other cooking method I'm using.
Das_Muller December 15, 2013
This tasty root is most commonly enjoyed in a savory soup, with large bones, and dates.
the T. December 14, 2013
I've never even seen one. How's the taste?
Rachel C. December 15, 2013
On its own, the lotus root doesn't have a distinctive taste. The texture, though, is divine in my opinion. I like to blanch them in boiling water, which makes them crispy and crunchy.
YenWhite December 14, 2013
when i am lucky enough to find it at the asian grocery store here in Missouri, i cook it long and slow with pork neck bones and dried cuttlefish to make a soup that brings me back home to Singapore.