Please accept my apologies for the long wait on this recipe; I know many of you have been eagerly awaiting it. We’ve been saving this recipe for crispy stuffed Lotus Roots with pork until Chinese New Year when they’ll be readily available at Asian grocery stores. These mini-fried meat sandwiches are savory, crisp, and crunchy, and they’re a delight to eat.
We always had this for Chinese New Year when I was a kid. In those days, fried foods were reserved for special occasions, so this dish was a delicacy. Oil was extremely costly and could only be purchased with specialized stamps. In the 1970s and 1980s, China looked like that. Stamps (and money) were needed to purchase virtually any common household item. There were stamps for everything from coal to cotton to tofu to grain. For instance, if you wanted to buy ten pounds of rice, you’d have to hand over cash and a specific number in order to do so (grain stamps). Family size and age determined the number of stamps given for each category.
I feel like an old lady ranting, but I’m relieved that era is over and those stamps are now just collectibles. It’s fine to prepare this dish whenever you like. While there are still fresh lotus roots to be had, enjoy life to the fullest!
This recipe for stuffed lotus roots is extremely tasty and requires a lot of work. Prepare the lotus roots by trimming and cutting them, prepare the meat filling, assemble the lotus roots, and finally, double-fry them. As such, you Chinese food purists will dive in with both feet to this challenge.
It’s time to try it out, so here we go!
- 1½ lb. of fresh lotus roots(680g)
- Oil (for frying)
For the Meat Filling:
- ¾ lb. of ground pork (340g; can substitute ground chicken)
- 1 tbsp. of Shaoxing wine
- 2 tbsp. of light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of water (60 ml)
- 2 tsp. of sesame oil
- 1 tsp. of cornstarch
- ¼ tsp. of white pepper
- 1 scallion (very finely chopped)
- 2 slices of ginger (finely minced)
For the Batter:
- ¼ cup of all-purpose flour (30g)
- ¼ cup of sweet rice flour (30g)
- ½ tsp. of salt
- ¼ tsp. of five-spice powder
- 1/3 cup of water (80 ml)
- ¼ cup of beer (of your choice)
Making the Filling:
- Combine the ingredients for the meat filling in a large bowl. For 5-10 minutes, stir in one direction until the meat mixture forms a sticky paste. Set aside.
- Lotus roots should be peeled, washed, and sliced into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Lotus root slices, like potatoes, should be rinsed in cold water to remove excess starch and prevent them from turning black. Drain. To remove any extra moisture, a salad spinner works wonders.
- Spread a little bit of meat filling on one slice and enjoy. You can make a lotus root “sandwich” by layering another root slice on top. Put the two slices of lotus root together and press them gently so the meat filling can seep into the holes on both sides. By doing this, the two slices will be “locked” together. Do this again and again until all the slices are gone. About 15–18 total units should result from your efforts.
Making the Batter:
- Put the two types of flour, salt, and five-spice powder into a large mixing bowl. Stir constantly, and gradually add the water. Make sure all lumps are broken up by stirring it thoroughly.
- Next, pour in the beer and mix thoroughly. This is a relatively soft batter. If you prefer a thicker batter, add more flour. Since sweet rice flour tends to settle, you should stir the batter between dipping each piece of lotus root.
- The lotus roots should be coated when they are fried. The lotus roots will fall apart in the oil if you coat them too early, trapping liquid between the meat and the roots.
- The oil for frying needs to be heated up now. A small, deep pot is ideal for me because it reduces the amount of oil needed and keeps the oil contained, protecting me from accidental splatters and burns.
- Have the oil in the pot heated to 275 degrees and a depth of about 1.5 inches. Coat the lotus in the batter and gently lower it into the oil once the temperature reaches 275 degrees. You should only fry a few pieces at a time, and each side should get about 6–7 minutes. Remove them and set them on a plate covered with a paper towel. Do this again and again until all the lotus sandwiches have been fried. The oil needs to reach 325 degrees, so crank up the temperature. Fry them again for three minutes to achieve the desired color and crunchiness.