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The root of the lotus plant, renkon is utilized in East Asian cuisine for its crisp snap and crunchy texture. Cut into a cross-section, it’s a funny-looking vegetable with hollow spots that make a star- or snowflake-shaped circle within each slice. Part of renkon’s appeal is just how unique it looks when sliced!

It’s used often in simmered dishes, in pan-fried dishes, fried in tempura, served as a small dish in Japanese izakayas, and more. Candied renkon is also a traditional gift during the Chinese New Year. Renkon tastes mildly sweet; it absorbs other flavors well, though, which makes it well-suited to stir-fries and braised dishes that have other sauces and ingredients that have a more assertive flavor.

Beyond the main root, renkon’s starch is also useful for gluten-free baking or other cooking techniques that could require wheat flour. Meanwhile, lotus flower leaves are sometimes used as food wrappers for steamed dishes like Chinese sticky rice.

Uwajimaya carries renkon in our produce department.