This lotus root chips recipe talks you through how to fry lotus root at home to make a crazy easy appetizer and certain conversation starter.
These lotus root chips are vaguely nutty and sweet and impossible to stop nibbling after just one. Let’s backtrack a second to the lotus root, which is found underneath the blooms of the lotus flower. The thick, pod-like roots are peeled, thinly sliced, and can be fried, stewed, or stir-fried, their characteristic holes making the vegetable easy to recognize in any incarnation. Author Lisa Howard deems lotus root “the ideal candidate for frying because the oil can penetrate more evenly into each slice.” As an aside, it’s also sorta mesmerizing to watch the oil bubble and burble through the holes in the slices. At any rate, it’s an excellent and unexpected party trick.–Renee Schettler Rossi
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How To Buy Lotus Root
We know what you’re thinking. Forget how to make lotus root chips. Where do I even find lotus root?! And how the heck do I know how to pick out a ripe one?! For starters, head to the produce section of an Asian grocery store. You’re looking for elongated, tan, oval, pod-like things that are attached to one another.You want firm, dry lotus root that, when sliced, yields pristine white interior riddled with lacy holes. Beware lotus root that appears blemished, feels like it has soft spots, or is black at the tips, as chances are it’s moldy inside. Lotus root is pretty perishable, so keep it wrapped in a paper towel in your vegetable bin until you use it, which ought to be within hours of getting it home. You may wish to buy a few extra lotus roots because it’s often tricky to tell when one is ripe and when it’s overripe. The worst thing that can happen is you end up with surplus lotus root, which has long been valued medicinally for its high trace mineral content. When you tire of making lotus root chips, you can instead toss the sliced lotus root into soups, braises, and stir-fries.
Lotus Root Chips
- 3/4 pound lotus root (about 2 sections)
- Peanut oil for frying (or substitute avocado oil)
- Sea salt for sprinkling
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the outer layer of the lotus root. Using a sharp knife, trim the ends of the lotus root. Using a mandoline or a hand-held slicer, cut the root into thin, even slices about 1/8 inch thick and drop the lotus root in a bowl of ice water to keep the slices from turning brown.
- Grab a large skillet and pour in just enough oil to cover the bottom. Place it over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
- Drain the lotus root slices and pat them completely dry. Slip in as many slices as the skillet will allow without overlappng slices. Let the lotus root cook, undisturbed, until the edges are golden brown, about 3 minutes. (The timing will vary if your lotus root slices are thinner or thicker than 1/8 inch.) Use tongs or a slotted spatula to flip each chip and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, or until both sides are lightly brown. Repeat with the remaining lotus root, adding more oil if necessary and reducing the heat to medium-low if the oil is sputtering or if the lotus root seems to be browning too quickly.
- Drop the cooked lotus root chips on a brown paper bag to drain and immediately sprinkle them with salt. Serve while hot.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Well, these are fun! The good news is that the lotus root chips can be done is a very shallow amount of oil. I used my best high-heat oil, an avocado oil, and a small (8-inch) cast iron skillet. This is a fun appetizer or weeknight treat for a casual meal. I simply salted them, but you could dress them up with a tangy or spicy yogurt on the side. The flavor was earthy, and while the exterior was crisp and nicely golden brown, the interior was slightly chewy in a really nice way. It was fun to fry because you could see the insides of the lacy holes starting to brown just as you needed to turn them over. The free flow of hot oil through the cavities meant the chips cooked quite evenly unless the slice got too thin. I hand-sliced the lotus root since my small Kyocera mandoline would have made the slices too thin. While I aimed for even, thin slices close to 1/8 inch, some were more wedge-like and some were thinner (those browned faster). You need to watch the oil, making sure to stay below the smoke point (it wanted to creep up well past the safe zone of mid-300s, and when I measured the temp and observed it getting too hot, I just turned the heat down). Judge doneness by color. I was able to fry about 4 slices at a time. Buy the prettiest firm and unblemished lotus root you can. Next time I will try making this recipe in my wok so I can process a slightly larger batch and capture the splatter a bit better.
These lotus root chips are definitely a party trick to tuck in your pocket. The crisp little lovelies are conversation starting as well as stopping. It was sorta mesmerizing to watch the hot oil bubble through the lacy holes in the chips. I varied the thickness of the lotus root slices and found that, to state the obvious, the thinner the slice, the crisper the chip. I actually preferred the slightly chewy, more golden chips made from slices that were slightly fatter than 1/8-inch thickness—the not-so-crisp texture reminded me a little of tapioca starch. At any rate, this is a keeper. I tried both a refined olive oil and peanut oil and preferred the peanut oil. The hardest thing about the recipe is finding ripe lotus roots that aren’t already sodden or moldy inside. I think my lifetime average when shopping for lotus root is about 1 good one for every 3 that I purchase.
Originally published February 09, 2016