It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a much loved dish turns out to be quite easy to prepare, those of us who love cooking, are delighted. With apologies to Jane Austen, I was happy to learn that one of my favourite Chinese dishes – the Wok Fried Lotus Stem Honey Chilli – is not so hard to make after all. And the icing on the cake was Chef Tony, of the Golden Dragon, Taj Krishna Hotel, actually showing us how to make it.
He showed us how to make dimsums and even got some of us to try our hand at stuffing one with the mixture he had made. Steamed Vegetable Baos, Chicken Dimsums and the Wok Fried Lotus Stem were demonstrated step by step, all our questions patiently answered, and a delicious lunch that included the dishes we had learnt to make, followed.
Lotus stem is, as the name suggests, the stem of the lotus flower. Because it grows in muddy waters, the stem usually is full of mud and needs to be thoroughly cleaned. My Sindhi background ensured I was familiar with the lotus stem as an ingredient used to make curries – with spinach or with potato – but the Asian variety I learnt about later. To make life easy, it is better to buy the canned variety than the fresh stuff and clean all the mud off. Having said that, my love for the Asian version is inversely proportional to the Sindhi one – where you can feel the fibrous texture of the lotus stem. We were forced to eat it as kids because of its high fibre content.
For those of you who like to experiment, here is the recipe so generously shared with us by Executive Chef Nitin Mathur. Another plus point is that one usually has most of the ingredients required at home and it doesn’t take long to make. You can increase or lower the chilli content as per taste.
So here is the recipe as given to us:
Wok Fried Lotus Stem Honey Chilli
225 gms lotus stem, peeled and sliced
20 gms dry red chilli
10 gms chopped garlic
10 gms chilli paste
20 ml honey
30 ml tomato ketchup
5 ml soya sauce
20 gms diced spring onions
2 ml chilli oil or sesame oil
500 ml oil
100 gms cornflour
Salt to taste
Lightly season the lotus stem with salt and dust with corn flour and keep aside.
Heat the 500 ml oil and fry the lotus stem till crisp and keep aside to drain.
Take a little oil in a pan and saute the dry red chilli. Add the garlic and saute some more. Then add the ketchup, chilli paste, honey, stir and cook for a few minutes. Then add salt and soya sauce Add the fried lotus stem and toss well till the paste coats the lotus stem. Add the diced spring onion, finish with chilli/sesame oil and serve hot.