Kung Pao Lotus Root

February:Asian/Chinese Lunar New Year

When we were visiting China, our tour group was served different lotus root dishes. Even though Islander grew up around Asians and a large Chinese community in Hawaii, she had never tried lotus root until we travelled to China. When we returned to the states, she went to find lotus root at the Asian grocery store so she could try cooking it at home and expand our Chinese recipe list on our blog.

Lotus root is considered a vegetable with a long, tubular stalk-stem (like large potato-like sausage links) growing below the water into the ground and shooting at the surface into a beautiful flower. It has a neutral taste that takes on the flavors of other ingredients. We also like its unique “crisp” bite and smooth texture. Chinese and Eastern medics believe lotus root is a cooling food that helps the body restore balance.

As Highlander loves kung pao chicken, we made a meatless version with lotus root and it was delicious for our Chinese new year dinner (one year, it fell on Ash Wednesday so we abstained from kung pao meat). Kung pao lotus root is a differently delicious dish to start off the lunar new year! Kung hee fat choy!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pounds lotus root
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 stalks green onions, chopped (green part only)
  • 6 pieces dried chili pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts, skinless
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • oil for frying

Directions

Separate, wash and peel the lotus root like a potato. Slice half the lotus root into 1/3 inch thick rounds and dice the rest. Set aside to make the sauce.

In a small cup or bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil.

Crush the garlic, peel and slice the ginger and chop the green onions. In a small cup, make a slurry with the cornstarch and water.

Heat a little oil in a skillet or wok. Fry the lotus root slices and cubes until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and dry on paper towels. In the same pan, sauté the garlic, ginger, green onions and peppers. Remove from the pan onto a small plate.

Toast the peanuts by sautéing them in the same pan for a minute or two. Return the lotus root and spiced vegetable mixture into the pan. Pour the soy sauce mixture and slurry and mix well until sauce is thickened. Dish out on platter, garnish with extra green onion slices (optional) and serve hot with rice.

Notes

  • Learn more about the nutritional value of lotus root here.
  • Search our blog for other Chinese and Asian recipes to make for the lunar new year.

Snake Cookies

Snake Cookies

February 10, 2013: Asian Lunar/Chinese New Year (Year of the Snake)

Kung hee fat choy! We rang in the Year of the Snake on this Asian lunar year (2013) with some slithery and slightly sweet sugar “snake cookies,” a combination of our Chinese almond cookie and freaky finger cookie recipes. Although these are not traditional treats, the cookies are cute and easy to make for a fun and festive new year (or Halloween) celebration.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening (we used butter-flavored Crisco baking sticks)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup almonds, slivered, blanched and chopped (optional)
  • green food coloring
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • green sugar (we used Wilton brand)
  • white tube frosting
  • black tube gel frosting
  • strawberry fruit roll up
  • red tube frosting

Directions

Cream the shortening with the sugar until smooth. Stir in the almond extract. Mix in the flour until the dough sticks together.

Snake Cookies

Fold in the almonds, if using, and blend well. Tint with green food coloring. Shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and pinch out 1 ½ inch balls. Gently roll out into 5-inch long ropes. Curve into a slight S-shape, smoothing out the cracks.

Snake Cookies

Place on a slightly greased baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Continue making the rest of the “snakes”. Brush the tops of the snake with beaten egg. Sprinkle with green sugar. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

Snake Cookies

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes but do not brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely and crisp up. Use a small round tip to pipe white eyeballs on one end of the snake cookies. Dab a little black tube gel on the white eyeballs to make the pupils. Unroll a strawberry fruit roll up.

SNAKE COOKIES

Slice into thin strips, then into tiny rectangular pieces. Cut slits on one end to make a forked tongue. With a little red frosting, position the red fruit roll up tongues underneath one end of the snake cookies. Continue for the rest of the cookies. Place on a platter and serve or store in an airtight container up to a week. Yield: Approximately 15 snake cookies.

Snake Cookies

Notes

  • Gel food paste yields a more vibrant color on the cookies than liquid drops.
  • Minimize the frosted points of the piped white eyeballs by touching your fingertip with a little powdered sugar, then pressing down lightly to flatten before adding the black gel pupils.