In Japan we are at the end of Lotus Roots season, but eat them all year round!
Lotus roots come from a plant called Nelumbo nucifera, also known by a number of names including Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, or simply lotus. This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years.
A common misconception is referring to the lotus as a water-lily (Nymphaea), an entirely different plant.
Native to Greater India and commonly cultivated in water gardens, the lotus is the national flower of India and Vietnam.
The flowers, seeds, young leaves, and “roots” (rhizomes) are all edible. In Asia, the petals are used sometimes for garnish, while the large leaves are used as a wrap for food. In Korea, the leaves and petals are used as a tisane. Yeonkkotcha (연꽃차) is made with dried petals of white lotus and yeonipcha (연잎차) is made with the leaves. The rhizome (called ǒu (藕) in pinyin Chinese, ngau in Cantonese, bhe in Hindi, renkon (レンコン, 蓮根 in Japanese), yeongeun (연근) in Korean is used as a vegetable in soups, deep-fried, stir-fried and braised dishes. Petals, leaves, and rhizome can also all be eaten raw, but there is a risk of parasite transmission (e.g., Fasciolopsis buski): it is therefore recommended that they be cooked before eating.
-Season: September~December in Japan.
Lotus roots have been found to be rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, iron and manganese, while very low in saturated fat.
Various parts of the lotus are also used in traditional Asian herbal medicine.
-Choose specimens with a clear white cut section. There should not be any black spots.
-Use large specimen as they are easier to cut and use.
-To prevent oxydising, warp cut specimen into wet kitchen paper.
-Add vinegar to water when bolingthem to keep them white.
-The easiest way to peel them is to use a potato peeler!
The stamens can be dried and made into a fragrant herbal tea called liánhuā cha (蓮花茶) in Chinese, or (particularly in Vietnam) used to impart a scent to tea leaves. The lotus seeds or nuts (called liánzĭ, 蓮子; or xian liánzĭ, 鲜莲子, in Chinese) are quite versatile, and can be eaten raw or dried and popped like popcorn, phool makhana. They can also be boiled until soft and made into a paste, or boiled with dried longans and rock sugar to make a tong sui (sweet soup). Combined with sugar, lotus seed paste becomes one of the most common ingredient used in pastries such as mooncakes, daifuku, and rice flour pudding.
Japanese popular Renkon dishes: