Saturday, June 26, 2010

A divine encounter with Lotus Root Chips

The lotus root is  the stem of the lotus flower. Growing under the water, the stem is peculiar in that it's shaped like bulbs that are attached one on top of the other, forming a long stem (sometimes 3 or 4 feet long). Imagine fat sausage links or perfectly smooth sweet potatoes connected end-to-end. The lotus flower sits above water like a lillypad with a flower on it, looking like it floats with no support- while the thick stem that is the lotus root, is actually attached below, extending from the bottom of the pond up to the top. You may have seen lotus flowers before.... they're commonly used in depictions of Buddhist and Hindu cultures as a symbol of purity, peace, & divinity, and they're pretty trendy across the board (think all things home decor related, often used in the famous artworks of Shepard Fairey, a popular choice for that classic lower back tattoo, and the list goes on and on). From the outside, the bulbous lotus root looks pretty unsuspecting, but when you slice that puppy open, you'll find pure epicurean beauty. I seriously love being in the kitchen with one of these.

Making lotus root chips have become my favourite garnish and addition to really any meal. You can find them at most asian grocers - I always pick up a few when I'm in, or passing through Chinatown. When lightly fried, these starchy roots turn into orange flower-like crispy chips that are dry, crunchy but not crumbly, and not greasy at all.Tuna tartare is the reason I first made them, & is still my number one complimentary dish, since eating thin and crispy chips with tartare is so necessary. Recently, I've been experimenting this root for almost everything (stir fry, salad, soup, you name it). It's very healthy - high in fiber, vitamin c, potassium - and low in saturated fat. Awesome. Here's how to prepare them.

Lotus Root Chips:
1. Separate the Lotus root bulbs. Peel each bulb, and set aside. Using a mandoline (Benriner being my mandoline of choice), slice the lotus root into thin rounds. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

2. Heat 1/4 inch peanut oil in high-sided skillet- and place 8 or so rounds in at a time. Be careful not to overcrowd the skillet. The oil will bubble slightly at first, and the rounds will begin to darken quickly. When they begin to change colour, flip at immediately. When the chips have turned a light-medium orange, remove from skillet and place on a plate with paper towel (they will continue to darken slightly as they cool)- move quickly, they burn fast!

3. Enjoy! These chips are so beautiful and amazing- you will be hooked after one try at making them.

Click here for my tuna tartare recipe & if you decide to try out the chip recipe, let me know how it works out! 


  1. had these in tempura at a japanese restaurant and LOVED them!

  2. Danielle:

    Thanks on the detailed information about where the lotus root chips are coming from and how to prepare them. I just had them on a salad at "The Rusty Pelican" in Miami and I was wondering about that ...