We visited one of my favorite restaurants in Korea on Sunday – a vegan buffet restaurant at the base of Taejosan, the mountain that my husband and I hike in warmer weather. The food is fresh and simple, a natural choice for many Buddhists following a visit to the temple tucked away in the mountains. There are many dishes that demand going up for seconds at the buffet: crispy springrolls, japchae, grilled mushrooms, fresh pear slices, dates soaked in honey, cinnamon tea…but the candied lotus root often brings me up for thirds. Glazed with a sticky berry-colored syrup, the slices are reminiscent of stained glass.
Don’t let the Swiss cheese-like holes of this starchy vegetable intimidate you. It can be prepared a variety of ways, and its ability to take on any flavor makes it quite versatile. Add it to a long-simmering soup for a potato substitute, use it in an Asian stir-fry, or candy it using my method below. While the vegan buffet’s candied lotus root is delicious, I wanted to try a new spin on the snack. I used only honey as my sweetener, a bit of apple cider vinegar for my acid, introduced ginger for some heat and added a generous coating of sesame seeds. I hope you enjoy.
* I purchased a package of pre-sliced, poached lotus root for this recipe, but working with the whole vegetable is simple, too: just peel, slice, and boil for a few minutes to soften before starting this recipe.
1 tablespoon high smoke point oil ( I used grapeseed)
1 quarter-sized piece of ginger, minced
4-5 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or plum vinegar
3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1. Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the ginger and lotus root slices and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
2. Combine the honey and vinegar and pour into the pan, coating all of the lotus root slices with the sauce.
3. Continue cooking the lotus root slices on low-medium heat, turning every so often to avoid burning. Continue this for 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the lotus root slices become golden brown and glazed with the sticky sauce. This can take a while. Have patience, grasshopper.
4. Spread the sesame seeds on a small plate and begin coating your lotus root slices one at a time, making sure to cover them evenly and completely. You may eat them immediately, or store them in the fridge for a later snack.