Sweet and Sour Lotus Root

By Yang Liu

Sweet and Sour Lotus Root
The unique water plant lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) has had great significance in Chinese culture for more than three thousand years.

The lotus flower is viewed as holy and elegant and is often praised in Chinese literature. It is a sacred flower in Buddhism too. Apart from its cultural significance and beauty, lotus is also delicious – all parts of the lotus plant are edible; the flower petals, seeds, young leaves and root can even be eaten raw. Many parts of the plant are also used in traditional herbal medicine and can be made into lotus tea, which is believed to be very healthy.

The part of the lotus that’s consumed the most is definitely the root. Its mild yet refreshing sweetness and crunchy texture make it a very popular vegetable, often used in stir-fries, stews and soups. One of my favourite ways to cook it is with a sweet and sour sauce. The lotus root absorbs the flavourful sauce and softens after cooking but remains slightly crunchy.


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2



350 g (121/2 oz) lotus root, peeled and cut into 2 cm (3/4 in) dice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

90 ml (3 fl oz) Chinese dark vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1½ teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch) or wheat starch

60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) canola (rapeseed) oil

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 spring onion (scallion), sliced


  1. Soak the lotus root in cold water.
  2. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, dark vinegar, sugar and cornflour and mix well.
  3. Heat a wok over a high heat and, once hot, add the oil and drained lotus. Pan-fry the lotus dice for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent burning, until they are golden and a bit crispy.
  4. Push the lotus dice to one side of the wok and add the garlic to the other side. Stir for a little until you can smell the aroma of the garlic, then add the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium and keep stirring. Let it cook for about 3 minutes until most of the sauce has reduced, then finish with the spring onion.


This is an edited extract from Vegan Chinese Food by Yang Liu. Published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP$45.00, available in stores nationally from 3 January 2024. Photography by Katharina Pinczolits.


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