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The lotus root is a root vegetable that is indigenous to Asia, and is found underwater. Similar in shape to a long squash, it is not uncommon for lotus roots to grow to a length of four feet. The exterior of this root is covered with a peel that is a reddish brown color in appearance, with a white interior that has the appearance of lace. The meat has a texture that is slightly crunchy, and mildly sweet.
Preparation of this food involves removing the peeling to reveal the white interior. Often, the root can be sliced or cut into sections for use in different types of recipes. When eaten raw, sections of lotus root can be used with dips or eaten alone, much in the same manner as celery or carrot sticks. Chopping lotus root into smaller pieces also makes it ideal for inclusion in cold salads as an extra layer of sweetness to balance out the overall flavor of the greens and the dressing. Sections of the root can be hollowed out and filled with such tasty fillers as cream cheese or pimento cheese, making a colorful and welcome addition to any tray of finger foods.
When using lotus roots in a cooked dish, the crisp texture shines when used with other root vegetables. It works well in stir-fry dishes, especially when used with a range of brightly colored vegetables and sections of bean curd. It is also possible to prepare this ingredient by baking longer sections, after coring the sections and filling them with rice and vegetable mixtures. The lotus root also works well in soups, stews, and as a steamed side dish for a meal.
When selecting lotus roots, it is a good idea to always go with those that have a firm texture, appears to be plump and juicy, and does not have much in the way of exterior blemishes or soft spots. They should be wrapped in clear plastic wrap and stored in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator. Generally, the lotus root should be prepared within a week of purchase, in order to ensure the best taste and texture.