p Picks and Pecks: recipe: lotus root soup

Sunday, June 16, 2013

recipe: lotus root soup

I always find soups so comforting. When its raining or snowing outside, all I want is a big bowl of steaming hot soup as I sit in my sweatpants and hibernate. I used to make soup all the time when I was in Boston, but I realize that a lot of people think that the ingredients are hard to come by, especially overseas. The best resource at those times - Chinatown. If you look hard enough, you'll find most things you want on the dusty shelves.

Case in point - lotus root. Readily available in wet markets here, it is probably easy to miss as it's usually coated in a thin film of the mud that it grows in. 

Two weeks ago, a friend ordered a dish of chicken just because there was lotus root in it. Needless to say, I had to eat all the chicken, while she ate the lotus. I realized then that she missed it so much, that I should illustrate how easy it is to make this soup - which is such a staple.

The beauty with most Chinese soups is that they require very few ingredients. The following are all that is needed:

  • small piece of dried squid
  • ~10 dried oysters
  • 1kg of pork bones
  • 2-3 segments of lotus roots

First the oysters and squid are fried in a few tablespoons of oil so that they become lightly toasted and fragrant.

In the meantime, blanch the pork bones in boiling water. When the flesh on the surface changes to an opaque white, pour out the hot water and rinse the pieces under cold tap water. Add them to the oysters and squid and cover with about 1 litre of boiling water.

While the stock is boiling, scrape off the thin outer skin of the lotus root. Wash and slice the lotus root into segments. Each half can be cut into about eight pieces - cross-wise or length-wise as you prefer. I prefer length-wise because they take up less space in the pot.

Once the lotus root is added to the soup, it still needs to be boiled for at least another hour - the lotus root slices will turn into a darker purplish color before it is ready to be served.