Lotus Root Side Dish (연근조림)

I'm posting about another slightly "exotic" dish today; I did a post on a burdock side dish last week and now I'm writing about lotus root (연근, yun-geun). The lotus is a beautiful plant with a lovely flower usually grown in water gardens, often misnomered as "water lily." The entire plant is edible. The stamens, leaves, and petals can be dried and made into a tea, the petals are often used as a pretty and colorful garnish, the leaves are used as wraps (like a lettuce wrap), and the young roots are also eaten - and that's what I'll be posting about today.

If you're wondering why you should try lotus root, you should know that they're actually quite good for you. They have lots of fiber, potassium, manganese, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C, thiamin, phosphorus, and other good things. Taste-wise, they are v. neutral so they soak up the flavors of spices and seasonings well. The texture is similar to water chestnuts except a bit denser. Maybe it's better to describe it as similar to a raw potato? But if you do stumble upon a package of lotus roots, maybe this post will encourage you to try them.

연근조림 (yun geun jo reem) is a Korean side dish made by boiling the lotus root in a mixture of soy sauce and either sugar or corn syrup. If you are cool and awesome and not lazy then you will buy raw, unprocessed lotus root (which looks kind of like if a radish and a banana had a baby) but I buy boiled and sliced lotus roots packed in water from the Asian grocery store because it's easier (re: I am lazy). Also, whole lotus root must be peeled and sliced and then kept in water to prevent oxidation and then you have to use some vinegar to help draw out the bitterness... it's just this whole to-do that I am just not willing to deal with when I am making dinner on a weeknight after a 10 hour workday.

So, this recipe is specifically for the packaged lotus root and it is quick (less than 10 minutes) vs. the recipe for raw lotus root which would take almost an hour.

1-1/2 lb package of boiled lotus root (packed in water)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable oil (for cooking)
Start by mixing the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and crushed garlic together.

Then, in a large, non-stick skillet, pour in just a bit of oil (1/4 teaspoon) and then lay enough lotus root slices in the bottom of the pan to form a single layer. *Note: you will work in batches to use up all of the lotus root. Or, you can just make enough to eat in one meal and save the rest (in a container with water) for another day.
Let the lotus root fry for a few minutes and then flip over. Then, pour on a bit of the sauce mixture (about 1/4 teaspoon) over each piece. Let them sizzle for 2 minutes and then flip over again. You can see in the third frame, the 3 pieces in the bottom left corner have been flipped while the rest have not - I just wanted to show you the difference.
Plate the completed ones and repeat the process with the remaining lotus root. They should look shiny and have slightly caramelized edges and be stained brown all over by the soy sauce.
Pretty, right?

Here's the recipe page:


  1. I can't wait to try this! I just bought packaged lotus root and was feeling guilty. Thanks for your blog!


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