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Hot weather eats: Lotus root salad 藕片凉拌

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Wanted to add a footnote for people from the West who are new to China. You may be missing fresh salads; may have had trouble finding them in restaurants. Chinese are not in the habit of eating green leafy vegetables in their raw state. This habit most likely developed because they are often unsafe; can be a source of gastroenteritis/diarrhea or worse.

 

沙拉 is the Chinese for salad and you won't often see it on restaurant menus. In fact actually never if you mainly frequent smaller locals-type, family-style places. But what you will generally find is a selection of different 凉拌 liang ban. These are salads too, just made with more substantial ingredients, such as the recipe above for one made with lotus root.

 

Other popular liang ban dishes 凉拌 that you can frequently find feature 木耳 wood-ear mushrooms, and cucumber, such as 排黄瓜 or crushed cucumber。 Sometimes you will find sliced tomatoes, though these are often sprinkled and tossed with white sugar instead of a vinaigrette dressing. Sometimes you will see boiled white beans in a light sauce with bird's eye chilies and garlic. Cubes of pickled white radish 白萝卜 are common. Quite a few others as well.

 

So if you are missing your 沙拉 -- try looking at the 凉拌 part of the menu instead. Alternatively, these things are real easy to make at home and that allows you better control over the quality of the ingredients as well as the additives.

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Shelley

Looks wonderful. Lotus root looks beautiful.

 

The difference between the heavy and light is quite obvious, the wholes are bigger on the lighter one.

 

Thanks for sharing.

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abcdefg

Exactly, Shelley. The light one was about half air!

 

Several places in China are known for their lotus root, and Yunnan is not one of the main ones. But we do have a small place about an hour south of Kunming near Fuxian Lake 抚仙湖 that produces outstanding ones, albeit not in huge quantities. They are locally prized and I buy them when they are available.

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Shelley

What exactly is a lotus root, or more specifically what is a lotus plant?

 

I think I will have a quick search around the interweb :)

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abcdefg

I've read that "lotus root" technically isn't really a root, it's an underground or submerged part of the stem. Botanical term is "rhizome."

 

One episode of "Taste of China" showed people digging them up. They had to wade out in the mud. Real hard work.

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Shelley

Good pictures, yes the pictures skylee posted a link to shows people wading out to harvest them.

 

Also a picture of a lotus root pizza, now there's an east west mashup :)

 

Beautiful flower and very pretty seed pod and seeds.

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Bigdumogre

Lotus root is just so fresh and clean tasting. One of my favorite foods when I order it. So versatile too especially in hot pots.

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abcdefg

Agree. I always order it as one of the hot pot vegetables.

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889

I'll put in a plug for 干煸莲藕. Common around Wuhan, but rare to find elsewhere.

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abcdefg

What is it, @889? Don't think I've ever had it.

 

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Edit: OK, I took a look and found some pictures and recipes. Looks good. Not sure I've seen it in Kunming. Seems it might require deep frying, which I don't do at home. Might be other methods; I didn't look real extensively.

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I tried making stuffed lotus slices a couple weeks ago. Stuffed them with ground meat and sticky rice, then sautéd in a wok. Had a hard time with it. Didn't come out well. Fell apart before getting crisp. A friend and her husband once made these for me at their house, and it didn't look all that difficult. Guess I should have paid closer attention.

 

Tried again a few days later using two slices of lotus, like a thin sandwich. That tasted better, but still didn't look good like it does in the restaurants. 

 

post-20301-0-36578700-1439007501_thumb.jpg

 

Will keep trying, and if I can work out how to make it both taste good and look nice, will post a method. Any great dish must please the eye as well as the palate.

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Bigdumogre

Maybe try a egg as a binder to hold it onto the lotus root. Last time I had one like that had pork in the middle like a sandwich then a thin batter covering whole thing. But it was deep fried then I presume

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889

干煸莲藕 is basically a vegetarian version of 干煸牛肉, in which thin crispy but chewy lotus root strips substitute for thin crispy but chewy beef strips. There's skill involved in 干煸'ing, so I think it's more a restaurant dish than one for home cooking.

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abcdefg

Pretty sure you're right about that being a restaurant dish, @889. I can only tackle relatively simple things at home. I'll be on the lookout for it next time I travel up to Hubei.

 

Good tip about using egg as a binder, @Big. That makes sense. I'll look at some more recipes.

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