Lotus root, also known as 莲藕 (lián ǒu) in Chinese, is a root vegetable that has been a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine for centuries. A complete guide to lotus root, how to prepare it, how to cook it, and lotus root recipes with a Szechuan style lotus root and pork stir fry.

lotus root |chinasichuanfood.com

What’s Lotus Root

The Chinese name of the lotus root is “莲藕”. It is a very popular ingredient in China, and all across the country. Lotus root is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, especially in Chinese and Japanese cuisine.

It is the rhizome of the lotus plant, a magic vegetable with beautiful appearances. The lotus plant is grown in mud but it gives us a very treasure lotus root, lotus seeds, and beautiful lotus flower. Lotus root has won the popular as a vegetable on the table. Lotus seeds, whether eaten fresh or dried to make dried lotus seeds, can be further used to make lotus root paste. It may have several small tubes adjacent to each other. For the convenience of transportation, the small tubes are broken to form two or three tubes together. 

lotus root powder|chinasichuanfood.com

What does lotus root taste like

Lotus root is extremely popular because of its unique taste and texture. The raw lotus root is crunchy and sweet. But after cooking, the texture can be crunchy or slightly fibrous, depending on how it is cooked. It also has a slightly earthy aroma and an unami sweet flavor.

The lotus root plant

The lotus root plant (Nelumbo nucifera) is an aquatic perennial plant, meaning it lives for multiple years and grows in water. It is native to Asia, particularly Southeast Asia and India. The Chinese name of the lotus root plant is “荷花”. It also gives a very beautiful flower and very large leaves.

The lotus root plant produces edible rhizomes (roots) that are harvested for food, the seeds can also be used in food. The dried leaves of the lotus root plant are also used as a tea in China because lotus leaf tea has many health benefits, like anti-inflammatory properties and playing a super positive role in losing weight and removing extra fat from the body.

Nutrition of lotus root

Lotus root is believed to be a super healthy food in Chinese cuisine. It is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, potassium, and minerals like calcium and iron. Besides, lotus root also contains a lot of active enzymes which can enhance the metabolism of carbohydrates. Plus, it’s low in fat and calories so it won’t add too many extra calories to your meal!  So lotus root is considered to be a good ingredient for those who are watching out the weight.

Lotus root powder

Lotus root powder also known as lotus root starch (藕粉) is a starch product. Lotus root powder is made from dehydrated lotus roots that have been ground into a fine powder. Lotus root powder is high in dietary fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion and can aid with weight management. It also contains vitamin C, potassium, iron, and other vitamins and minerals that are essential for overall health. In addition to its nutritional value, lotus root powder is believed to have medicinal properties such as anti-inflammatory effects and can help with skin conditions like eczema.

Varieties of lotus root – 7 holes vs 9 holes

They are two different varieties, one with 7 holes (7孔莲藕) on the cross-section, and the other one has 9 holes. 7 hole lotus root is best for soups or lotus root powder because it is softer. 9 lotus root (9孔莲藕) is best for stir-fries and salad. But the two types can be interchangeable for common home cooking.

How lotus root is harvested

Traditionally, lake lotus root is harvested by hand. So the lotus root is more expensive than other vegetables in China. Even so, it is one of the most popular ingredients in daily Chinese cooking. 

Purchasing tips

  • Watching the joining node. A shorter joining node indicates the lotus root is easy to eat.
  • Watching the appearance, short and fat lotus root with a smooth surface.
  • Natural lotus root without a special blanching process has a light brownish color.

How to avoid oxidization and getting dark after sliced

Once you have your lotus root selected, it’s time to prepare it for cooking. Start by peeling away the hard outer skin with a knife or vegetable peeler. Then slice off each end of the root before cutting. The following are cutting options – large chunks for soups, slices or dice for stir-frying, and salad, chips, and deep-frying. Lotus root will get oxidized very quickly in the air. So after slicing, soak them in clean water to isolate them from the air. Adding rice vinegar can keep the color even better.

🥘Ingredients for Szechuan style lotus root stir fry

You will need several very basic ingredients to make this dish.

Fresh high quality lotus root
Chili peppers – add a lovely aromatic hotness to the dish. I use both green and red chili peppers.
Aromatics( ginger and garlic )- enhance the flavor.
Light soy sauce – bring out the umami of ingredients.
dark soy sauce – can increase the color of this dish.
Salt and sugar as needed
Cooked pork belly is commonly used in another famous Sichuan dish- twice cooked pork belly. You can use fresh slices or even skip this for a vegan version.

🍳 Ingredients

  1. Blanch the lotus root in a pot of water for 2 minutes. Transfer out and drain. Then prepare all of the other seasonings.
lotus root|chinasichuanfood.com

Add a small amount of oil to a pan or wok, and fry for 1 minute. If you plan to skip pork, you can increase the amount of oil.

lotus root|chinasichuanfood.com

Place ginger, garlic, and fresh chili peppers. Fry until aromatic.

lotus root|chinasichuanfood.com

Return blanched lotus root.

lotus root|chinasichuanfood.com

Add salt, sugar, light soy sauce, and dark soy sauce. Give everything a big stir fry and serve hot.

lotus root|chinasichuanfood.com
lotus root|chinasichuanfood.com
lotus root stir fry|chinasichuanfood.com

Szechuan Lotus Root

Szechuan style Lotus Root
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: stir fry
Cuisine: Sichuan cuisine
Keyword: Lotus Root
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 225kcal
Author: Elaine


  • 100 g pork belly , optional
  • 2 lotus root sections , cut into thin slices
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 thumb ginger , minced
  • 2 fresh red pepper , cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar


  • Cook pork belly in boiling water for 20 minutes and then cut into slices.
  • Blanch the lotus root in a pot of water for 2 minutes. Transfer out and drain. Then prepare all of the other seasonings.
  • Add a small amount of oil to a pan or wok, and fry for 1 minute. If you plan to skip pork, you can increase the amount of oil.
  • Place ginger, garlic, and fresh chili peppers. Fry until aromatic.
  • Return blanched lotus root.
  • Add salt, sugar, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Give everything a big stir fr y and serve hot.


Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 1543mg | Potassium: 1060mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2745IU | Vitamin C: 78.8mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 2.6mg

Other ways to cook with lotus root

You can’t imagine how many ways we can cook with lotus root. We will guide you through them one by one.

Lotus root soup

Humble lotus root soup has been on Chinese dinner tables for hundreds of years. It’s simple and easy to make, and lotus root adds a lot of flavor and nutrition to this soup. In the center part of China, lotus root soup with ribs and pork bones is considered the most important dish for the Chinese spring festival. The best partner ingredients are pork large bones and ribs because the lotus root will need some fat to form a great balance.

To make lotus root soup you will need lotus root, pork bones (I recommend a mix of pork large bones and ribs), and optionally peanuts and red dates.

lotus root soup|chinasichuanfood.com

Lotus root stir fry

Lotus roots can also be stir-fried with other vegetables, such as carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, and wood ear mushrooms. There is a lovely Chinese-style stir-fried lotus root with snow peas, wood ear mushrooms, and carrots. This dish has the super lovely name “荷塘小炒”, which means lotus pond little fried. Lotus root can also be simply stir-fried with fresh peppers.

Lotus root salad

Lotus root salad is very delicious. You can make lotus root salads by tossing lotus roots, vegetables, and dressings. The dressing for lotus root salad usually includes sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil, and sugar.

lotus root soup|chinasichuanfood.com

Kung pao lotus root

If you love the flavor of kung pao, then you should never miss this kung pao lotus root recipe! It is a delicious combination of crunchy lotus root and spicy kung pao sauce and crispy peanuts.

lotus root soup|chinasichuanfood.com

Deep-fried stuffed lotus root

Deep-fried stuffed lotus root has a lovely name “耦盒” meaning a box made with lotus root. It is a traditional Chinese New Year dish.

lotus root soup|chinasichuanfood.com

Lotus root meatballs

Lotus root can be finely chopped and added to deep-fried meatballs. It will add some crunchy texture to the meatballs and make the meatballs more fluffy and juicy too.

lotus root soup|chinasichuanfood.com

Steamed pork with Lotus root

With a similar theory to the meatballs, lotus root can be also added to a steamed pork dish. The steamed pork will have a natural sweetness bought by the lotus root and a super fluffy texture.

lotus root soup|chinasichuanfood.com

Stuffed lotus root with sticky rice

Stuffed lotus root with sticky rice is a savory lotus root dish. It is usually served as a cold dessert dish.

lotus root with sticky rice|chinasichuanfood.com

As a big fan of this lovely vegetable, I always want to have more lovely ideas about how to use lotus root in daily cooking. I love it because it is a nutritious, healthy, sweet vegetable. It is also widely loved for its high fiber and rich vitamins. So just try it today.

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  1. I have been professional cooking Chinese food for 40 years and learned early on that lotus must be cooked initially in a stainless pot else it turns purple .love your blog have tried almost every Chinese dish you post.
    Thank you Steve

    1. Hi Steve,
      That’s true. Lotus root cannot be cooked with iron wok or iron pot. And I am so glad to know you here, hoping we can learn more from each other about Chinese cooking. Happy cooking ahead.

  2. I love crunchy root vegetables like lotus root, gobo, daikon, etc etc… It stays crunchy (not soggy) even after cooking and it gives wonderful sensation in mouth. 🙂 I have to try this recipe. I know I’ll enjoy it a lot with steamed rice! 🙂

    1. I love crunchy root vegetables too. And I totally agree with your feeling about the taste and besides, they give a lovely and special color.

    1. Hi Monica,

      I have not tried to use dry lotus root yet. We all use fresh ones. But you can have a try and I would be grateful if you can let me know the result.

  3. I am in australia and sometimes the lotus root here turns purple when I use them for soup.
    Can you explain why they turn purple?