Japan Eats

Recipe: Lotus and burdock root salad

This healthy winter salad makes a great accompaniment to a hearty stew

Gobo (burdock) root is high in fiber and has an earthy flavor. It is thought to have first come to Japan as a Chinese medicinal herb several centuries ago. Lotus root, meanwhile, is also a winter vegetable, coming into season between October and March. It is part of New Year dishes throughout Japan, the holes in the root allowing Japanese to ‘see a bright future’.

I suggest you serve the salad alongside wine-based meat stews (think stewed beef in demi-glace sauce).

Lotus and burdock root salad

Lotus and burdock root salad

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 150 – 200 g lotus roots
  • 100 g burdock roots
  • 50 g kidney beans
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of miso (barley miso)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of pounded white sesame seeds
  • 2 – 3 pinches of white sesame seeds

Method

Rinse the lotus root in a bowl of cold water.

Rinse the lotus root in a bowl of cold water.

Fill a bowl with 500 ml of cold water, and add 1 – 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Peal the skin off the lotus roots, cut into 1 mm thick slices, then soak in the bowl for 10 minutes to remove any bitterness.

Fill a second bowl with 500 ml cold water, and add 1 – 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Wash the burdock roots with a brush, then cut it into long thin strips, shaving each root as though sharpening a pencil with a knife. Soak the roots in the water for 10 minutes, again to remove any bitterness.

Place a pan with 1 liter of cold water on high heat, and when it comes to boil, add a tablespoon of vinegar. Add the shaved burdock and boil for 1 minute, then add the sliced lotus roots and boil them together for another 1 minutes (2 minutes in total).

Drain then and cool them down in a colander. Place a pan withe 500ml of cold water on a high heat. When it comes to boil, add a pinch of salt, boil the kidney beans for 2 minutes. Soak the kidney beans in a bowl of cold water till the kidney beans cool down to stop the color change. Once they cool down, slice them 2 mm thick diagonally. Place a bowl and mix the following ingredients to cook the dressing: 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of mayonnaise 1 teaspoon of miso (barley miso) 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon of pounded sesame seeds.

Add the lotus roots, burdock and kidney beans to the bowl of the dressing and mix the them entirely. Serve the salad with 2 – 3 pinches of sesame seeds on.

Recipe: Renkon no yuzukoshoitame (sautéd lotus root with yuzukosho sauce)

Lotus root combines healthy eating with strong visual appeal

Here’s vegetarian appetizer that’s great as an otsumami (dish to be eaten with drink). It’s flavored with yuzu, meaning that it has a tangy citrus flavor. For those who enjoy this remarkable fruit, more yuzukosho recipes can be found here, here and here.

The recipe below is vegetarian, however pork can be added to the dish to If you want to add sliced pork to the dish, begin by sautéing the pork, then cooking the lotus root.

sautéd lotus root with yuzukosho sauce

Sautéd lotus root with yuzukosho sauce

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 200 g of lotus root
  • 10 g of asatsuki chives (as a garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of yuzukosho
  • 1 tablespoon of sake
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon of butter

Method

Peel the lotus root and cut it into chunks. Immediately place each piece into a bowl of water with a tablespoon of rice vinegar in order to maintain the color and remove any bitterness. Drain after approximately 5 minutes.

Next, mix soy sauce and yuzukosho in a small bowl. Pour a tablespoon of vegetable oil into a frying pan then warm it on a medium heat. Once it becomes warm, add the lotus root and sauté for 3 minutes.

Pour sake into the frying pan and briefly turn up the temperature to burn off the alcohol (a single tablespoon of sake should only take a few seconds). Turn the heat down to low, then add the mixture of soy sauce and yuzukosho and coat the lotus root with it.

Finally, add 1/2 tablespoon of butter. As soon as it melts, turn off the heat and mix everything together in the pan.

Garnish with finely chopped asatsuki chives and serve.

Recipe: Tori to renkon tsukune (chicken and lotus root meatballs, teriyaki style)

Liven up your next bento with these chicken and lotus root meatballs

Tsukune are meatballs, usually made from either chicken or pork. They make a delicious meal, or an excellent addition to a bento (Japanese luchbox).

Here, we’re adding a twist to usual recipe by adding renkon (lotus root). The grated lotus root softens the meatball mix, while the other – roughly chopped – half of the vegetable provides some texture.

If you prepare this for a bento, garnish with shichimi (assorted spices) instead of asatsuki. The more adventurous can even use leftovers as filling for teriyaki meatball sandwiches (just add lettuce and mayonnaise!)

Chicken and lotus root meatballs

Chicken and lotus root meatballs

Ingredients (serves 3 – 4)

  • 300 g of chicken mince
  • 150 g of lotus root
  • 1 egg
  • 10 g of ginger (1 clove)
  • 50 g green onion
  • 1 teaspoon of sake
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons of sake
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of mirin
  • 1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of chopped asatsuki chives

Method

Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a bowl containing roughly 2 cups of water. Peal the lotus root and place it in the water for ten minutes to whiten it and take out any bitterness.

Take the lotus root out of the bowl and remove any moisture with the paper towels. Chop half (75 g) of the lotus root roughly into pieces 1 – 5 mm square. Grate the other half of the lotus root.

Finely chop the ginger and green onion. Take a bowl and mix the chicken, ginger, onion, lotus root, sake, soy, egg and potato starch until sticky.

Pour 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into a frying pan and warm it on a low heat. Moisten your hands with water and shape the batter into balls, then sauté with the lid on the pan. One one side becomes brown, turn them over. Sauté both sides for 5 – 6 minutes in total on a low heat. Repeat the process until you finish the mixture.

Next, prepare the teriyaki sauce. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Once you have finished cooking the meatballs, turn the heat to medium and pour the sauce into the frying pan. When it comes to the boil, turn the heat to low and dunk the meatballs into the sauce – 1 minute for each side.

Boil the sauce down until it thickens. Plate the meatballs and pour the remaining sauce over them. Garnish with a pinch of sesame seeds and chopped asatsuki chives.