Fried lotus root sandwich 蓮根のはさみ揚げ

japanese cake

Lotus root or “renkon” 蓮根 is a floating stalk of the lotus plant but is not really a root. It has air channels which makes it float on the water. Japanese (and Chinese) are fond of renkon which has a nice firm texture and is rather starchy. In the past, I could occasionally get fresh renkon in the Japanese grocery store but now only ones I can get are pre-boiled in a vacuum pack. That’s  just fine with me since it is always difficult to clean the insides of the air channels. The vacuum packed variety has a nice firm texture and can substitute for fresh ones for any dish which calls for renkon.

Pork: We had a whole pork loin which I made into three different kinds of roasts (Sino-Japanese pot roast, brined and non-brined pork roast cooked in the Weber with hot smoking) for Thanksgiving (we gave up on Turkey some years ago). I had some trimmings which I chopped by hand and made into ground meat. I decided to make this dish as a drinking snack. I am not sure about the amount but it was not a lot (may be less than 1/2 pound), just enough to make 7 sets of renkon sandwiches as see below.

Other ingredients for meat stuffing: I mixed in scallions (finely chopped, 3 stalks), grated ginger (1/2 tsp) and garlic (1/2 tsp), soy sauce (1/2 tsp) and mirin (1/4 tsp) and back pepper. I just kneaded the mixture together by hand until it became rather sticky. If it had too much moisture, I could add potato starch. I sliced the renkon into thin rounds (1/4 inch thick). I took a small amount of the meat mixture and made miniature hamburger patties the same size as the renkon rounds to form a sandwich (left in the image above).

Batter: I made a relatively thick tempura batter; a mixture of cake flour and potato starch (3:1) and ice cold water.

I coated the renkon sandwiches with the batter and deep fried in 340F peanut oil for 2-3 minutes turning once or until the meat was done.

I served this with green tea salt. The renkon retains a nice crunchy texture which combined with the juicy meat stuffing is very nice. This dish will go with any drink including cold beer. Other variations could use chicken or shrimp for the stuffing. Of course, you can serve more than just one per person.

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