Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chicken Soup with Lotus Root and Red Dates

You may be familiar with the lotus flower. For the Chinese people, this pink, aquatic flower symbolizes beauty, purity and elegance. But do you know that most parts of the lotus plant are edible? The seeds can be eaten raw. The flowers (or at least the stamens) can be infused into herbal tea. The young leaves and petals can be eaten. While the mature leaves can be used to wrap food before cooking. The edible rhizomes -- the grey-brown roots can be cooked in a variety of ways.

This is how a portion of the rhizome looks like. Maybe you have already seen this in various Asian groceries. One lotus plant can have several of these "roots." It looks like a swollen elongated sweet potato. It has a crunchy texture and subtle flavor. So, we can cook it in many different ways. The young ones, naturally more tender, can be made into salads. Otherwise, they can be stir-fried, stuffed, deep fried or simmered in soup.

Chinese people have long known that Lotus roots are a very healthy food and have been using them in this way for many centuries. Recent studies confirm this - Lotus roots were found to be rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, and manganese, while very low in saturated fat. Lotus roots are believed to have "cooling" effect. This should be served often during hot summer months.

Wash the root thoroughly. Remove the thin skin by scraping or simply use a vegetable peeler. See the picture above? That is how it would look like when you cut it, cross-section, after peeling. Slice the root thinly, around 1/8 inch thick per slice. See the picture below? Don't you just love the beautiful lacy pattern? Since the root discolors easily when cut, drop it into water immediately after slicing. You may add a little lemon juice or vinegar to the water, as well.

In a pot of boiling water, add in the ff:

1 kilo chicken, chopped to serving pieces
1 lotus root, prepared and sliced
5 pcs dried red dates
a handful of Chinese Wolfberry or Gou Qi Zi

Let boil and simmer for an hour. Alternately, drop everything in the slow cooker before leaving for work, and when you come home, a nutritious soup is ready waiting for you. :)

Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Sharing this soup and the featured Lotus Root with the Weekend Herb Blogging community, headed by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This weekly event features herb and unique plant ingredients and the dishes we make using these ingredients. This week's host is Valentina from Trembom. To see last week's wonderfully delicious round-up, please check out Haalo of Cook Almost Anything At Least Once.


anudivya said...

You know what... I got lotus seeds
(puffed) a few days back, and I don't know what to do with them!
Since you say you cook with Lotus roots a lot, I was wondering if you knew about seeds too. Let me know if you have some experience cooking it. Thanks! :)

Dora said...

Nutritious soup! Thanks for sharing. *slurp! slurp!* ;p

Christina Kim said...

Yeah...this is a nice soup!~:D

Valentina said...

Ning, wow, fascinating post. I did not know 80% of what i read. I only found out that one can cook with Lotus plant fairly recently through a friend who lives in japan. Your post has been so informative. Your recipe has blown me away. On my next visit to my local asian food shop i will ask whether they have the root. Is red date the 'normal'date? Or is it a special variety?

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Hi Anudivya! If your lotus seeds are fresh, you can eat them right away! But I am guessing they are not. Do you have the dried white variety? We usually cook these in soups as well. Just like this featured soup. Or they can be made into sweet desserts with the white fungus. Please check out my post on white fungus for more information. Thanks!

Hi Dora! Hi Christy! Thanks for dropping by, am glad you like the soup!

Hello Valentina! I'm so happy that you are willing to try this recipe! The lotus root is not so expensive here. I hope it is available in your Asian grocery. You may also ask for the dried red dates in the Asian grocery. If they do not have the red dates, I guess other kinds of dried dates will also do. Thank you so much for your interest! :)

anudivya said...

The ones I got were puffed up lotus seeds... I am still figuring out what to do with them!
Thanks for answering my question though! :)

Jescel said...

wow, i've never had lotus roots before.. sounds intriguing! they look pretty too...

Beachlover said...

my favourite soup pork lotus with red date!I think this one of the soup I learn to cook from my mother..yummy!!

tigerfish said...

I've just had a lotus root soup with pork ribs in a Cantonese eatery this week! Oh...the soup is so sweet and refreshing! I bet yours is too :)

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Hi Anudivya! I have not heard of puffed lotus seeds. Let me do some research (AKA, ask my mother-in-law) :)

Hello Jescel! Welcome! :)

Hi Beachlover and Tigerfish! Yes, the lotus root can be cooked in pork soup as well. Both soups are tasty and refreshing!

Anonymous said...

lotus root is my fave! So much flavour and cooling... yummy yummy!!

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Thanks Noobcook!

Anna Haight said...

I adore lotus roots! What a fabulous new way to use them! I simmer them in fish stock, seaweed and soy sauce. A very informative as well.

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Thanks Anna! I will try your version of soup as well. :)

Kalyn Denny said...

I love the look of lotus root! I've read a little about it before but never had any. Now I'm wondering if any of the Asian markets here would have it. Great post, makes me want to find some.

viagra online said...

It's a Different way to enjoy a soup specially with that Lotus Root because it gives other view to the recipe I think that's like a kind of decoration.m10m

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I don't like the way that lotus root looks like but I bet that it tastes good. because Asians know how to cook from ancients time.

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