I didn’t know much about the lotus root when I picked a couple of them up in Chinatown last week. As I was preparing this dish, I discovered that they are a: really pretty b: taste like a cross between a water chestnut and a potato and c: work wonderfully with tempura batter, because they are super-crunchy and don’t mush up or wilt when plunged into super-hot oil. It doesn’t really matter what kind of flour you use to make tempura—as long as all of the batter components are super-icy-cold and the lotus roots are sliced really thin, you’ll end up with a light and crispy appetizer that is unique, nutritious and easy to make.
2 medium-sized lotus roots, cut into 1/8 inch or thinner slices
1/2 cup rice flour
2 TB cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G
3/4 cup fizzy water (add a little more if needed to thin the batter out)
vegetable oil for frying
ponzu sauce or equal parts mirin and soy sauce, for serving
Heat several inches of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. While you are waiting for your oil to heat, combine the rice flour, cornstarch and Ener-G in a shallow and wide bowl. Add in the fizzy water and gently whisk until well combined.Test your oil by throwing a pinch of batter into it—if it sizzles immediately, you are ready to fry. Dip one of the lotus root slices into the batter, remove it, then hold it horizontally for a second or two to allow the batter to run through the holes in the lotus root.
Fry only one or two pieces of lotus root at a time until golden brown—about three minutes. If you make too many at once, the cold batter will reduce the oil of the temperature and you’ll end up with soggy and oily tempura.
Place the fried tempura on paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
Serve it with ponzo sauce or make a similar sauce by combining equal parts mirin and soy sauce.