Kinpira renkon is braised lotus root and is part of the Japanese culinary tradition of izakaya, or small plates.
Kinpira is a Japanese cooking style in which sliced vegetables are stir-fried and seasoned with sugar and soy sauce. The most common ingredients used for Kinpira is gobo (burdock root) and carrot, but the lotus root is another common ingredient of this cooking style. The name Kinpira comes from legendary muscleman, and that shows how nutritious the dish really is.
Renkon (lotus root) has a snappy texture and a distinct appearance. Renkon is thought to be a good luck food in Japan. Renkon is not the most familiar ingredient to most. In fact, unless you reside in the Far East, chances are that you will not come across this odd looking vegetable at all.
It is not really a root but the rhizome of the lotus flower. For the Buddhist, it is a symbol of purity even though it is grown in muddy conditions. It has a knobby appearance and looks a bit like ginger on steroid. It has small holes throughout its length which, when sliced open, revealed the most intricate lattice design like a beautiful blossom flower or a snowflake. It has a delicate and sweet flavor along with a crispy crunchy texture. It is delicious when served raw in a salad. Once cooked, it retains most of its crunchiness and is a great absorber of flavors, perfect for stew or other braising dishes.
Renkon is thought to have amazing health benefits. It's low in calories, aids digestion increases energy levels, helps treat lung-related illnesses such as asthma and more.
Serve kinpira renkon as a side dish on a small plate with sesame seeds sprinkled over the dish.
- 3/4 lb. renkon lotus root (peeled and sliced into thin rounds or thin half rounds, half moon shapes)
- 3 oz. carrot (peeled and sliced into thin half-rounds)
- 2 tsp. vegetable oil and 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. sake
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp. mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame seeds
Soak renkon slices in water for 5 to 10 minutes.
Drain and dry with paper towels.
Heat oil in a large skillet.
Stir-fry carrot and renkon slices for a couple minutes on medium heat. The renkon should turn translucent.
Add sake and stir-fry until the liquid is gone.
Add mirin and sugar and stir-fry until the liquid is gone.
Further, add soy sauce and stir-fry quickly.
Stop the heat and sprinkle sesame seeds.
- Store kinpira renkon in an airtight container in the fridge and eat it the next day or a few days later (it tastes even better).
- If you have leftover renkon, make homemade lotus root chips.
- Consider making this spicy, adding dried chilies to the mix.