I looked through all my previous blog posts a few days ago… and noticed that broccoli has appeared 3 times since the blog started. THREE!! An entire blog based around broccoli would be… well.. not me.. so I decided I needed to make a bit more effort.
I present to you the.. erm.. 1 ingredient challenge!. The premise is.. I get one ingredient which is new / exotic / strange… and make something out of that plus whatever is in the fridge/flat, and for this post, that 1 ingredient is…. *drumrolls* Lotus Root!!
Growing up, I only ever ate lotus root in one dish, and that was lotus root soup. It’s a cantonese broth-type soup, with pork bones and/or herbs. I do love lotus root soup, and it’s suppose to be very good for you. But since I’ve moved to London, I’ve encountered lotus root crisps in Japanese restaurants and lotus root stir fries in chinese ones. Abeno Restaurant even puts lotus root in okonomiyaki, which I haven’t tried yet because that’s in the vegetarian option and I always order a meaty one. These different ways of cooking lotus root has intrigued me to try cooking it myself, and not just in soup.
Lotus root has an interesting texture. When stir fried it remains crunchy. It isn’t hard.. it’s got a degree of mush to it.. but still snappy and crunchy. It’s very hard to describe. Over here it normally comes vacuum packed in 2-4 sections. The one I bought had 3 sections. It needs to be peeled and the connecting bits cut off, and then sliced. Lotus root is almost always sliced crosswised so that the pretty holes can be seen. If there is a time lag between slicing and cooking, it can be soaked in a bit of water & vinegar to stop the flesh turning black.
I know my fridge/store cupboard isn’t necessarily ‘typical’… and some of these ingredients could be considered new/exotic/strange too, but this really was what needed using, and I didn’t buy many things this week as I’m going camping next weekend and would rather not have any perishables left while I’m gone.
The other ingredients I used today were lemongrass + ginger + garlic for aromatics, 1 carrot & half a sweetheart cabbage for vege variety, chicken for protein, shirataki noodles for.. erm.. noodles.. and XO sauce for flavour.
The cooking order as usual goes :
- Heat oil
- Fry the aromatics until starting to brown
- Add paste-type flavourings
- Add chicken, stir fry until cook / starting to brown – small pieces cook quicker / more evenly
- Add veges & lotus root. Stir fry until cooked. I like to put a lid on and steam the veges a little at this point.
- Add konnyaku noodles, stir,
- Taste, add any other flavouring required. At this point I added a tablespoon of shaoxing wine, and some cornstarch emulsion to make some gravy.
Soo… shirataki noodles.. what are they. They’re made from the konjac root. If you’ve seen ‘zero calorie’ pasta in Holland & Barratts, it’s basically the same thing. The Japanese eats them because they always have and it’s good at picking up flavours in soups and stews… the rest of the world eats them after discovering that they are zero calories but fills you up pretty well and they’re a good carbohydrate replacement. I eat them because I like them occasionally… and they were buy one get one free at the store last week as they had a box of almost-expiring packs.