I haven’t met very many children who don’t like lotus root. With its neutral flavor and fun almost-crunch, it’s fairly kid-friendly if you can get them to try it. Plus, it has a super neat wagon wheel shape unlike any other vegetable I know.
Some children love onions, others can’t stand to be in the same room with them. Feel free to substitute the onions for another root vegetable, cut in the same matchstick shape as the carrot, and add it at the same time or a little before the carrot depending on estimated cooking time.
When choosing lotus root, try to find ones that are cream-colored. There will probably be some light brown spots, but if any look like they are starting to get slimy or have bad spots, pass them up. Ideally, lotus root is kept in water to stay nice and fresh, but this rarely happens in grocery stores. If you find some that look lovely, grab a few and store them in fresh water in your refrigerator and they will keep for at least a month. Change the water frequently.
Kinpira is an energizing and strengthening style of cooking. Read more about it here.
Onion, Lotus Root and Carrot Kinpira
unrefined sesame oil
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into thin half-moons
1 small lotus root, sliced into thin circles and then each circle cut into quarters (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium size carrots, cut into 1/4 inch wide and about 2 inch long matchsticks
unpasteurized shoyu or gluten-free tamari
toasted sesame seeds (optional as garnish)
1. Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium low heat. Add about 2 tsp of sesame oil. Add the onion as soon as a little piece sizzles gently when added to skillet. Add a small pinch of sea salt. Sauté the onion, moving it around constantly, until it starts to wilt a bit.
3. As soon as the onion starts looking slightly soft, move it out to the edges of the pan. Add the lotus root and sauté for a minute or two before stirring the onion back in. Sauté the onion and lotus root until the lotus root seems to soften a bit. Sauté constantly, the lotus root tends to stick to the pan. Add a small amount of sesame oil if needed.
4. Push the onion and lotus root to the edge of pan and add the carrot to the middle. Sauté the carrot for a minute or two. Mix all three vegetables and sauté for another few minutes.
4. Pile all of the vegetables in the middle of the pan. Add a few tablespoons of water down the side. Cover, reduce heat slightly and let steam until the vegetables are almost soft. Add a little more water if necessary, but try to keep it minimal.
5. Remove cover. Sprinkle vegetables with a couple teaspoons of shoyu, stir and let cook until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat when done.
6. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
The lotus root will still be firm when done, but will taste good and have a pleasing texture. Under cooked lotus root doesn’t taste good and is a little chalky.