During our last trip to Pismo Beach, I had a braised lotus root dish at Izakaya Raku, a chummy neighborhood Japanese restaurant that specialized in izakaya, Japanese small plates. The renkon kinpira was the standout of the appetizer sampler plate. I've eaten plenty of lotus roots, but mostly deep fried and stuffed with ground pork. These lotus roots were crunchy and they had an addictive sweet, salty, and spicy bite.
Two days later, the boy and I tried a hip new izakaya in Berkeley, Ippuku. And for the second time in my life, I ate renkon kinpira. I had to make this dish.
Luckily, renkon kinpira is really easy. The hardest part is peeling and slicing the lotus root, which is to say, it isn't a hard dish at all. After the lotus root slices are lightly sauteed, they are braised with soy sauce and mirin until done. It may be consumed piping hot from the wok, or at room temperature.
serves 4 as an appetizer
1 lb lotus root, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/8" rounds
4 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 Tablespoon light soy sauce
2 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
3 dried chilies, each broken into 2 or 3 pieces
- In a small bowl, mix together the light soy sauce, sugar, and mirin. Set aside this sauce.
- Heat a wok or pan over medium high heat and add the sesame oil.
- Saute the lotus root slices for a couple of minutes, or until the edges of the lotus root start to become translucent.
- Add the sauce and chilies and simmer the lotus roots until the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.