Like chicken wings, my grandmother’s fried lotus and minced pork stacks is a finger food that is usually considered an appetizer or snack, but deep down, you want to treat it like an entrée. It's popular in Wuhan, China, but you don't see it much outside China. The minced pork filling is similar to what you'd find in a dumpling. The stacks get coated in a thin batter flavored with Chinese five spice powder and lightened with seltzer water for extra crunch before being thrown into oil for deep-frying.
The result is a three-bite snack composed of multiple layers, each with its own flavor and texture. —Alicia Lu
Test Kitchen Notes
To read more about this dish, see the full article. —The Editors
The Meat Filling
1 1/2 pounds
ground pork (or ground chicken)
scallion, finely chopped
The Lotus Stacks and Batter
fresh lotus root (about 4 lobes)
canola or vegetable oil (enough to fill 1/3 of a heavy pot)
Chinese five-spice powder
In This Recipe
Combine all ingredients for the meat filling in a large bowl and stir until the mixture is well combined and the texture is like a thick paste.
Wash and scrub the lotus roots. Peel and cut the lotus roots into 1/4-inch slices. Submerge the slices in cold water to get rid of excess starch.
Drain and pat the lotus slices dry with a paper towel. To assemble the stacks, take one slice and top with a thin layer of meat filling (about 1 tablespoon for larger slices and 1 teaspoon for medium to small slices). Top with another lotus slice that's equal or similar in size to create a sandwich. Gently press the top slice down to help spread the meat filling; the filling should fill the holes in the lotus.
Heat a medium- to large-size pot with oil (fill enough to completely submerge one layer of stacks) to 275° F.
To make the batter, add flour, cornstarch, salt, and the five spice powder to a mixing bowl. Slowly stir in the water. Stir thoroughly until lumps are gone. Then stir in the seltzer water. You can thicken or lighten the batter to your desired consistency by adding more flour and cornstarch or more water and seltzer.
Once the temperature of the oil has reached 275°F, coat the lotus stacks thoroughly with batter (the stacks will get too soggy and fall apart if you coat ahead of time), shaking off excess, and drop into the oil.
Fry the stacks in one single layer at a time. If you overcrowd the pot, they might stick to each other and fall apart. Fry each stack for about 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown, maintaining the temperature at about 275-300°F. (They will turn a bit deeper in color after you take them out of the oil.) Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined platter. Repeat until all stacks are fried. Let cool slightly and serve.