Stuffed Lotus Root

What might be more natural to stuff than a lotus root?
It’s a mostly hollow rhizome (actually a stolon or stem) of the lotus flower that grows in muddy ponds throughout Asia. The air passages that run through the bulb form a lacy pattern that is revealed when the rhizome is peeled and sliced crosswise.
What could be more natural to stuff? hmm…
In the U.S. a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner often involves stuffing a fowl (usually a big turkey) with a mixture of bread, savory vegetables (onions, celery, herbs, nuts, sometimes dried cherries or cranberries), and ground pork sausage.
As I began to consider Christmas dinner this year, circumstances seemed to require such an American-style traditional meal. I bought a small turkey. An eleven pound bird is larger than the birds I see hanging out around my back yard feeder, but in the freezer-display forest at the supermarket the average bird appears to be at least twice that large.
(Yes, the resident cats do wonder why my bird-traps out there never actually capture any of those critters…)
I took out several bags of dry bread from the freezer, and some partial packages of pork sausage.
Even a small turkey can occupy a large space in the refrigerator, and as I was looking to cull unlabeled condiments from past Japanese recipes, weeping vegetables, and unplanned science experiments to make room, I came across a lotus root.
What would be more natural to stuff than a lotus root with it’s lacy snowflake holes. A focus for a lovely dinner for one, Mr. Tess being out of town during the week before Christmas.
I had purchased the lotus root because, as I was considering moving to a new look for my blog, I was looking at old posts and pages. I came across this question from a reader:
it’s a recipe I’d dearly like to try someday:
tortillapress 04/05/2008 at 2:52 pm
Hello Tess – Do you know “karashi renkon” ? Would love to be able to prepare it (in New York) Looking for recipe – please advise if possible. Sincerely, “tortillapress”
Reply Tess 04/05/2008 at 4:59 pm
Sorry I don’t know karashi renkon, but I googled it and it looks good! I’ve seen various stuffed renkon recipes but never tried any of them.
It looks as if you can get this book: (菊乃井英文版: Kaiseki; The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto’s Kikunoi Restaurant – Google Books Result by Yoshihiro Murata – 2006 – Cooking – 192 pages) then you would find a recipe for “Fried Lotus Root with Japanese Mustard.” The type is very small and difficult to read on screen but it looks like it has ground fish, Saikyo miso, Japanese mustard, dijon mustard, and bonnito powder for the stuffing. The precise amounts are too blurry to read. Let me know if you make it!
Reply Amy Muramatsu 24/01/2010 at 4:42 pm
I have been searching for months, and was finally able to read this recipe on Amazon…

  • ½ lotus root
  • 2/3 oz (20 g) ground fish fillet
  • 2/3 oz Saikyo Miso paste 1 tsp Japanese mustard
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • A little dried bonito powder (dashi)
  • Flour
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

1. Peel the lotus root. Soak in water, and steam.
2. Combine ground fish and stuffing in a food processor.
3. Powder the holes of lotus roots from step 1 with flour and fill with stuffing from step 2
4. Coat the stuffed lotus root with flour and bonito powder. Deep fry at about 320º F (160ºC)
5. Slice the fried lotus roots from step 4 into rounds.

But, alas, this was not a recipe I could make when I had to cook an American holiday meal.
My ginger root was one of the science experiments: did you know bad ginger turns blue rather than fuzzy green? And in trying to clear space for big-bird, I didn’t want to thaw out a piece of fish, small as it was…
Oh, what then was most unlikely:

Lotus-Root-Stuffed-with-Pork Udon
serves 2-3 people generously

  • 4-inch to 5-inch length of lotus root
  • ½ pound ground pork
    (instead of Italian sausage I used,
    I recommend unflavored sausage
    to which you can add some miso, a tad of grated fresh ginger,
    a bit of karashi (Japanese mustard powder reconstituted),
    and some mirin)
  • 1 egg
  • potato starch (katakuriko) for coating
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • udon for 2 to 3 people,
    cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups dashi
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons canned crushed tomatoes
  • green onion sliced for garnish

Slice the lotus root into about ¼ inch thick rounds.
Mix the pork (and seasonings) with the egg: it should become pasty.
Spread the pork onto the lotus root rounds and press it into the holes.
Put the potato starch onto a shallow plate, and coat the filled lotus root rounds.
Let them sit for 10 minutes, then fry in hot oil. (It being the holiday-rich-food-season, I skimped on the oil—not the best plan because the coating didn’t crisp up as it should have.)
Add the dashi and tomatoes to the frying pan. Use up the remaining pork to drop meatballs into the liquid.
Serve in a big bowl with udon. Garnish with green onion slices.


6 thoughts on “Stuffed Lotus Root

  1. I love lotus root but I’ve never actually stuffed it with anything myself. The karashi and pork combination sounds really good, though!

    • But doesn’t it seem logical?
      Deep-frying is probably a better way to go—me trying to skimp on the oil, missed the crispness.
      My version was worth the experiment, but would it not be good simply served on a shiso leaf?

      • I too often avoid deep-frying…both because I try to avoid using the oil and because I’m actually rather terrified of deep-frying. But it does lend a certain crispness that can’t be gotten any other way!

        • When we were first married, I didn’t have a lot of kitchen equipment. I deep-fried something, then needed the pot for something else, so without thinking I poured the hot oil into a glass bowl. It exploded just below the top of the oil, a nice straight line, but the oil burned my hand—painful.

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