So as mentioned in the blog yesterday, one of my resolutions as such about food and the kitchen this year was to start getting beyond the basic comfort of my CSA basket — no question I love that basket and what I get but after a couple of years now I know the basic pattern of what will be available when. Supplementing that seems wise, and since I live within walking distance of a Japanese supermarket, all the more reason to experiment.
(Orange County, it should be noted, defies many different stereotypes all the time, and one of them is the persistent belief in the overwhelming whiteness of the place. Anyone who visits Santa Ana or Westminster knows that’s bull, but that’s just scraping the surface since any number of people from all over the world have ended up here in enough numbers to explain the appearance of markets supplying foods from all over the place. Where I live has a strong enough Japanese presence — one whole minimall is almost nothing but sushi and/or bento box locations — that a Mitsuwa market makes perfect sense, and thrives.)
Anyway, while wandering in there the other day I decided I was going to work my way through various unfamiliar things there one at a time, and decided to start with lotus root, or renkon — it looked interesting and while I might have had it at some point before, I wasn’t sure. A quick burst of googling turned up this handy page on how to cook with it, plus some recipes and illustrative photos, just what I needed. To quote the page:
Lotus root (renkon in Japanese) is actually the rhizome of the lotus plant. It’s a popular vegetable throughout southern and eastern Asia, but it’s still not that well known in the west. Lotus root is full of fiber and various vitamins and other nutrients. In Asia it’s believed to have various medicinal qualities, but in macro-nutrient terms it’s best to think of it as a starchy vegetable, like potato. Visually of course, it’s very appealing with all those little holes.
And that it is. Full details on how to prepare and use renkon is provided via that link but I ended up choosing the second recipe listed — it was quite delicious, and though it should have best gone with some rice (need to definitely always have some freshly cooked stuff on hand, even if from the night before), on its own with a roll it was more than satisfying. Don’t know what I’ll try next but that’s the whole point — I’ll wander over, look at something and give it a whirl.