Renkon is another delicious and healthy food that Japanese folks love. It’s known as ‘lotus root’ in English and it’s actually a part of the lotus plant’s root system. Apparently, lotus plants have stems that extend horizontally from the main root. This is the part that we eat.
Renkon is used throughout Asia in a number of dishes and I think people in the West are starting to discover its wonders. I found some stuff about lotus root supplements and products on some natural health websites.
The root itself is long and tuberous. It’s cut into thin slices that have holes around the center of the circle that make it look like a wagon wheel. It has a rooty taste (don’t know how else to describe it) and is crunchy. The crunchiness is why I love it so much.
Healthy And Yummy
Like most Japanese veggies, renkon is ridiculously healthy. It’s packed full of fiber and essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamin C, phosphorus and the list goes on. If my 4th grade understanding of biology is correct, these tubers are where plant roots store nutrients for later. That’s why they’re so nutritious.
Some wacky natural health website I found says that it increases sexual stamina in men and enhanced enjoyment of ‘the act’ in women. I don’t know about this, but renkon definitely makes you poo. But that’s not really what I’m thinking about when I eat it. I never think about poo when I’m eating.
Whether it helps you get down and nasty or not I don’t know, but it’s great for overall health. The fiber helps you lose weight by making you feel fuller without giving you calories.
Let’s Fry It!
If you know me, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned frying renkon yet. Well, here it comes.
There are lots of ways to eat renkon. My personal favorite is to take this wholesome, weight-losing vegetable and drop it into a deep-fryer. I’m talking about renkon no hasami age.
Hasami – something inserted or put inside
Age – fried
So, this is two slices of renkon with something in the middle like a sandwich, and then fried and covered in ankake. Ankake is a type of starchy sauce used in Chinese and other Asian cooking.
What’s in the middle? It could be tofu, meat, veggies or a mix of all. Usually, it’s kind of like the filling in gyoza – sort of a mincemeat with finely chopped meat and veggies plus sauce.
If you insist on staying healthy, there are lots of other ways to eat renkon. It’s often stewed in nimono dishes and also used as a crispy topping for salads. I’ve heard that there’s also a kind of tea made from lotus root called renkoncha. It’s pretty rare in Japan, though. I think there are probably more Western health nuts than Japanese people who drink it.