Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What to do with Renkon (Lotus Root)

I am such a HUGE fan of renkon! I get really excited when renkon season is here and I eat it as much as I can until the season is over. Hard to say what my favorite way of eating it is though... I love renkon tempura! I love reckon kinpira. I also love the renkon creme brûlée Trois serves for dessert. Sounds odd, I know, but it is sooooo good!

Many of you have probably seen renkon in the grocery store though, and just didn't know what it was or what to do with it. I'm hoping this will help to make you feel more comfortable about buying this delicious root vegetable and giving it a try.

There are so many ways to prepare renkon, but I just want to share a couple of recipes to get you started.

RENKON NO SUNOMONO - This is a delicious, marinated renkon. You can substitute the yuzu with another citrus fruit like lemon or kabosu (a citrus fruit similar to yuzu). You can also leave the citrus out, but I personally think it's so much better with it.

1 1/2 - 2 cups thinly sliced renkon
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
fresh yuzu peel (just the outer part of the peel) and yuzu juice

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add thinly sliced renkon and continue to boil for about 2 minutes. The longer you leave them in, the less crunchy they will be so don't leave them in for too long. Drain and while still warm, add the salt, sugar, and vinegar. Mix well. Taste and adjust by adding more salt or sugar if needed. The vinegar will be very strong, but will mellow out as it sits so don't worry if it seems very tart. Add a squeeze of yuzu juice and some yuzu peel and mix well. Cool completely and serve. I can just sit and munch on these all day.

RENKON NO KINPIRA - This is a renkon stir fry that goes very well with rice. If you want it to be a little heartier, you can throw in some ground beef.

1 1/2 - 2 cups thinly sliced renkon
2 TBSP dashi shoyu
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP sweet rice wine (mirin)
1 TBSP sesame oil
1 TBSP sesame seeds

Soak the sliced renkon in a bowl of water for a few minutes to get some of the starch out. Drain.
Combine the dashi shoyu, sugar, and mirin in a small bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust as needed.
Heat sesame oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add sliced renkon and stir fry for a minute. Add the sauce mixture and mix well. Stir around for another minute or two before turning off the heat. Crush the sesame seeds between your fingers as you sprinkle them over the kinpira. Transfer to a bowl and serve with rice.

Oh! Renkon is a good source of dietary fiber and Vitamin C. They taste good AND they're good for you!

Another interesting fact about renkon is that Iwakuni is very well known for renkon, and I have heard from quite a few people that the Iwakuni renkon is unusual because there are nine holes instead of the usual eight holes that are in the renkon. Of course I had to count them. It's true. There really are nine holes.

Are you feeling like you need to rush out and buy some lotus root now? The season is coming to an end so don't wait too long!
I should mention that I did not slice the renkon all nice and pretty. My knife skills are not the greatest. Toshiko and Keiko have amazing knife skills though and they are the ones who sliced everything up for these recipes. I just took pictures and tasted and took more pictures and tasted some more.