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Lotus seeds 莲子


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Lotus seeds are not what you're thinking. They are big: about the size of a marble.




We recently talked about cooking lotus root, and questions came up about other edible parts of the plant. Yesterday when I was walking a street near where I live (in an older section of Kunming) I saw a vendor 小贩 carrying 扛 an interesting item on one end of her bamboo shoulder pole 扁担。


She set it down to talk with a couple of buyers and I moved in for a closer look. The pan on one end of her pole had fresh lotus heads 莲头, each full of lotus seeds 莲子。They were still attached to short sections of stem. Snapped a quick picture with my phone. (Below left.)


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The peddler, an older woman, shelled out a few of the seeds and passed them to prospective buyers to sample. They can be eaten raw in small quantity straight from the pod, but aren't very tasty in my opinion. They are often sold after drying.


Here (below) are some more I saw today about noon. Different peddler, different location. It seems they are in season.


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The photo on the right shows fresh lotus seeds in the middle blue plastic pan. The slightly larger and rounder pale green fruit in the periphery of the basket are fresh olives 橄榄。Chinese like to pickle them.


I have not cooked lotus seeds at home, but from briefly looking at recipes this morning, it seems they are mainly used in soups 炖汤 or in rice porridge, 粥, and are often combined with lily buds 百合。


They are prized because of their ability to dispel excess internal heat 上火。Adjusting one's internal thermostat according to the precepts of TCM is frequently sort of an obsession here. Hard to understand if you are foreign.


Some Chinese articles I found talked about using them in Moon Cake 月饼 -- and sure enough it's almost that time of year again. (中秋节)


They are another example in a very long list of how the Chinese use food as medicine. It's an ancient cultural tradition, very pervasive even now. The streets of Kunming are such a rich place. Seems I'm always finding something new and interesting without any special effort.


Link to the lotus root discussion: http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/49345-hot-weather-eats-lotus-root-salad-%E8%97%95%E7%89%87%E5%87%89%E6%8B%8C/#comment-378120

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Some Chinese articles I found talked about using them in Moon Cake 月饼


Yes, lotus seeds are used to make lotus paste, which is used to make desserts, including Moon Cakes.  After reading what is done to them to make it tasty for desserts, I'm not surprised they aren't the best by themselves :lol:

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Haha, @Jbradfor -- Sounds like that process is one that I shouldn't pry into too closely. Kind of like sausage; I might enjoy the end result but don't crave too much intimate knowledge of how it is made in the factory.

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Did you wind up buying any or going too?


@Big -- I didn't buy any. Might try some in a soup if I can find a recipe that looks straight forward. They seem to have come into season; saw lots in the wet market yesterday.


@JBradfor -- OK, I understand what you mean. Mooncake is indeed pretty deadly from everything I've read. Way too much sugar and fat, and it's genetically coded to go straight to the consumer's LAD (left anterior descending coronary artery) in the form of plaque. Angina pectoris in every mouthful. Yum! (I'm exaggerating of course.)

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