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Well, I am confused! We’ve got the elusive banana stem, a substitute (aka lotus root) and now (in some comments) lotus stem, too.
When I saw that, initially I was thinking lotus root (actually a rhizome, I learned) and lotus stem were different parts of the same plant. A little further reading and I am still unsure — wiki states that the ‘rootlets’ are pickled — but here’s another source showing pickled lotus flower stalks!
Is a stalk the same as a stem? That makes sense — but what about a rootlet?? Baby root, yes? no?
To add to this confusion — I know the following, based solely on my own limited experience:
1. lotus root — which I have bought sliced and water-packed in Asian markets — looks like a big
sausage link when whole, when cooked is fairly bland, something between the texture of a potato and a water chestnut. I’ve seen it in Chinese restaurants, usually in a mixed veg dish such as “Buddah’s Delight”, and and also in Japanese cookbooks (where it is called renkon), stuffed and sliced.
See this informative post for more, and an excellent photo.
2. lotus stem — which I bought once in the Thai section of an Asian market, in a jar, pickled — it was thin, white, and as I recall, very vinegary, crunchy and fibrous. Not at all like the rather bland lotus root, and I have never seen it in a restaurant.
See this tasty-looking recipe with a great photo of the little babies — called ‘rootlets’ in the post. And check out that salad — with green jackfruit no less! Sounds interesting.
Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I can clear this up once and for all 🙂 In the meantime, for this dish, I can vouch for the lotus root as seen in the photo further down in this post 🙂
One of the most appealing things about Nupur’s year-end recipe marathon is the chance to go back over old bookmarks. I am having a blast revisiting these, as well as old posts of my own — many of which I haven’t seen in years. Today I came across this old lotus root post of mine, and this tasty-looking recipe from Vini.
Ah, but just like dear Vini these days, some veggies are elusive 🙂
For months, I wished and hoped for a green mango.
It took me nearly a year to find something close.
Fresh drumsticks are becoming more prevalent in the markets here,
but mostly I use frozen.
When I found breadfruit, it was canned (well,ok… jarred).
Banana stem is one of those elusive veggies. Oh, how I long to find one! But I can’t seem to get my hands on it — canned, frozen, or otherwise. When I ask for it in the stores, I get odd, sympathetic smiles in return, as if the storekeepers think I am mad… (oh, sure lady… banana stem? How about a nice banana flower!) Hmph 😉
I also wanted to use this marathon as an opportunity to cook, as much as possible, from stores already on hand. Looking at these two old posts, and then looking into my veg. drawer, I had an inspiration — perhaps lotus root could substitute for banana stem!
Reading Vini’s excellent description of banana stem once more only confirmed the hunch — “porous, absorbs flavors, retains crunchiness….” — hmmm!
It might not taste exactly the same, but it just might work.
The experiment was a huge success. Take the cover off simmering lotus root and you get a wee wafting hint of potato, but this won’t fall apart on you as potato can. Lotus root retains much of its crunchy texture; all in all a very interesting little tuber. As for the mustard paste — I couldn’t begin to describe the aroma; and I couldn’t get enough. Tantalizingly pungent yes, but not overly so — tangy, heady, spicy-amazing — this reminded me why I appreciate having the time to cook from scratch.
And who would have thought tamarind would make the difference — I hardly had enough left for a decent photo with rice — I kept going back for ‘one more taste’.
I followed Vini’s recipe to the letter — the only exceptions being:
~ I did not soak the mustard/rice/chiles long enough. Rather than two hours or more — it was more like one hour — I was in a rush 😉
~ I used rosematta rice as that was handy.
While the type of rice wasn’t specified, I imagine the short soaking time combined with the heartier rice made for the little pleasantly crunchy bits in the ground paste.
~ Obviously, I replaced the elusive banana stem with lotus root!
Vini dear, wherever you are, I hope you’re reading this so you’ll know just how much I loved this not-a-banana-stem curry 🙂
my very own dried chilies!
some of the cayenne peppers I grew this summer