Sunday, January 16, 2011

Baked Lotus Chips

I love international grocery stores. Tasting new ingredients and new foods is an exhilarating experience for me, and one of the best places to do that is in an international market.

I went to Super-H Mart (an asian supermarket in Buford) yesterday to stock up on some rice and other essentials like siracha, fish sauce, and rice noodles. If you have never shopped at an Asian, Mexican, or International Market you are missing out. They have all kinds of interesting things to look at, and most everything is translated so you know what it is. The store I went to yesterday were giving out samples like they do in warehouse stores like Costco or Sams. Except the items they were putting out were not typical Sams fare. They were sampling salted mackeral, furikake, and wasabi rice puffs. 

Whenever I go to these kinds of places I always try to pick up at least one thing I am not familiar with to try and expand my culinary repertoire. I found many things yesterday that I am very excited to experiment with. 

From the left: Sweet Brown Rice, Enoki Mushrooms, Cactus Honey Powder, Ground Chili Garlic Paste, Lotus Root, Kimchi Furikake, and a Seaweed Infused Sea Salt. 

I plan on using the sweet brown rice as a flour to experiment with baked goods as well as trying some kind of rice pudding. I am going to use the mushrooms in a stir fry. As for the furikake, I had no idea at the store what it was but it looked super interesting. When I got home I did some research and realized it is a dry mix seasoning to sprinkle over rice. You can get it in a variety of flavors with a bunch of different combinations of ingredients including sesame, soy, nori seaweed, bonito flakes, little dried fish, green tea leaves, ginger, etc... Since researching this condiment I have found many recipes for different flavors of furikake. I enjoyed it sprinkled on air-popped popcorn last night. It is so much fun to say and to eat that I will probably be making it at home very soon. It also gives me another excuse to go back to the H-Mart sooner than later :).

Today I experimented with the Lotus Root. I found a description for it on Chowhound:

Lotus root

General Description: The lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) root is the enlarged underwater stem (rhizome) of a water lily. Lotus root has been raised in ponds in Southeast Asia for more than 3,000 years. Both the leaves and seeds can be used, but the root is most common. Lotus root resembles sausage links about 6 to 8 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter. The interior has five to seven tunnels running through it that form lacy patterns when it is sliced crosswise. Lotus root has crispy white flesh with a mild flavor reminiscent of water chestnut or jicama. 
Purchase: Select firm, pinkish or grayish lotus root with smooth, unblemished skin and no soft spots.
Avoid: Pass up whole lotus root with dark or soft spots. 
Storage: Store whole lotus root in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks. 

I wanted to make crispy lotus chips to go with my lunch today. I peeled off the skin and sliced into thin rounds. I placed the sliced lotus into a pan of salted boiling water and boiled for 5 minutes. I pulled them out of the water and let them drain for a second. Then I placed the slices on a pan with a little bit of coconut oil, cayenne, salt, and pepper. I baked at 400F for 20 minutes flipping halfway through. 

They turned out quite delicious. I liked the ones that were crispy around the edges with a little bit of chew in the middle. They taste similar to a potato chip but has more texture and they look cooler. I saw you can use them in a stir-fry, salads, and soup to name a few. 

I ate my lotus chips with a big green salad with romaine, raw kale, half chopped apple, and the cranberries I baked the other day. I drizzled the whole thing with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It was simple but super yummy. I think I am going to eat it for lunch again tomorrow. 

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