The Lotus is an interesting plant, not only is it beautiful to look at as an ornamental species, all parts of the lotus is edible as well! Lotus come in many varieties, from tiny, Exquisite of Bowl Lotus which are quite small, dwarf to medium sized lotus, as well as the taller,larger lotus which can reach heights of 5-6 feet! Lotus come in a variety of colors from brilliant reds, to pinks to yellows to whites and versicolor. The petals can be single, double, multi-petaled or thousand petaled. The tubers of these lotus will all be quite different as well. When you are choosing a lotus as an edible vegetable, make sure you choose a variety that produces large, fat tubers, 2-3 inches around and 8-10 inches long, as they are the best tasting.The skin on edible tubers should be smooth with no tears or cracks. Thin tubers from smaller varieties of lotus will be dry and stringy.
Lotus tubers are nutritious and can be found fresh or canned in Asian markets.
Some suggestions for large, edible tubers are Yiliang 1000 Petal Lotus, Space Lotus 36 and Pink Lips Lotus. These three lotus varieties as well as many other large lotus varieties have excellent edible tubers!
Once you have selected the tubers you want as edible vegetables, wash the tubers thoroughly and cut about 1/4 of an inch off of each end. Place your tubers in baggies with a little water. Tubers can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator this way. When you are ready to prepare your tubers for cooking, remove them from the refrigerator, dry them off and cut to the proper size for the dish you are preparing. Make sure you keep the tubers moist by soaking them in a bowl of fresh water until you are ready to cook them as they will dry out rather quickly.
Use a very sharp knife to cut the tubers and cut them into sizes appropriate for the dish being prepared. The air chambers have an intricate pattern and are quite beautiful when sliced.
Depending on the dish you are preparing, you will find that the cooking times will vary. If boiling, boil for at least ten minutes to get a boiled potato texture and frying for a couple of minutes will give you a crunchy texture.Tubers may be sliced, diced or cut into chunks. Lotus have a crunchy texture and will not really soften when cooked. Lotus tubers can be pickled, boiled, baked, stewed and stir-fried.
Lotus tubers are staples in some countries and were an important part of the American Indian diet as well!