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Haitai Teachings

What is Renkon Lotus Root and Why Is It Good For You?

by Christal Burnette 03 Apr 2024 0 Comments


Haitai, my moai'ins! I want to introduce this very particular, autumn ingredient commonly found in Japanese cuisine and many Okinawan dishes today. Renkon, also known as lotus root, is one of my personal favorites. It also seems alien-like to me which makes it fun to eat (maybe because of the naturally grown holes inside of it that look strange...)

What Exactly is Renkon?

Renkon, the rhizome of the lotus plant (Nelumbo nucifera), possesses a unique appearance. It comprises a series of interconnected, hollow chambers, and its taste is mildly sweet and delightfully crunchy, making it a versatile ingredient in many dishes. At first, the outside may look just as strange as the inside. However, if you look at the image below, you will understand how this veggie forms and can see the beautiful flower that comes with it. Who would have thought!
Image Courtesy of MDPI Research  
Image Courtesy of MDPI Research

Renkon's Role in Japanese/Okinawan Cuisine

Renkon plays a pivotal role in Japanese kitchens and can also be found in Okinawan kitchens, bringing a unique twist to a wide array of traditional and modern dishes. How can this veggie be eaten? In MANY ways, actually.
  1. Renkon Chips: Thinly sliced Renkon pieces are deep-fried to create delectably crispy snacks, offering a delightful alternative to conventional potato chips.
  2. Nimono: Renkon frequently takes a starring role in Nimono, or a simmered dish. Its crisp texture provides a satisfying contrast to softer ingredients like carrots, daikon, and konnyaku.
  3. Tempura: Renkon slices are a beloved ingredient in tempura dishes. The airy tempura batter enhances the earthy notes of the lotus root, creating a harmonious texture.
  4. Renkon Salad: Freshly sliced Renkon can be added to salads, contributing its distinct crunchiness and a subtle hint of sweetness. It pairs seamlessly with light vinaigrettes or sesame dressings.
  5. Renkon Kinpira: In this stir-fry dish, Renkon is julienne-cut and cooked with soy sauce, sugar, and sesame seeds, resulting in a delightful interplay of sweet and savory flavors.

The Health Benefits of Renkon

Being both tasty and healthy is Haitai's goal when it comes to teaching about longevity. Renkon is an incredibly healthy root vegetable that you should challenge yourself to put into your diet more often.
  1. Low in Calories: Renkon is a calorie-conscious choice, perfect for those who are mindful of their calorie intake.
  2. Rich in Nutrients: It has a plethora of essential nutrients, boasting vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, and copper, which support your overall well-being and bolster your immune system.
  3. Dietary Fiber: Renkon is an excellent source of dietary fiber, fostering healthy digestion and promoting a sense of fullness.
  4. Antioxidants: Its antioxidant content helps combat free radicals, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
  5. Blood Pressure Regulation: Some studies suggest that Renkon may aid in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels due to its potassium content.
In summary, Renkon is far more than a simple ingredient; it offers the perfect combination of taste, texture, and health benefits. Whether you're savoring it in traditional dishes or crafting new culinary experiences, Renkon is worth adding to your diet. Follow me for recipes on how to use this strange root veggie. Yutashiku!
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