Ganbian Lotus Root is one of my very favorite Chinese dishes. This Sichuanese dish is not often found on Chinese menus in the US, so I make it at home. “Ganbian” is the “dry-fried” Sichuanese cooking method most popularly used for those classic Chinese green beans, but many foods can be cooked in the Sichuanese “ganbian” style. “Ganbian” means the veg is cooked in very little oil over med-low heat to sear before the aromatics of garlic, ginger, scallion, Sichuan peppercorns & red chilies are added. If you love dry-fried green beans, you can use the same “ganbian” method for a myriad of other veg – mushrooms, julienned potatoes, and here my very favorite – lotus root.
Lotus flowers have deep spiritual symbolism in China. These large, gorgeous flowers grow in shallow lake beds, essentially emerging from the mud. Spiritually, the flowers symbolize enlightenment and beauty transcending the “mud” of suffering and chaos. When the lotus roots are pulled out of the mud, then fully washed and peeled, they turn into a cooking ingredient that likewise transcends their muddy origins. Lotus roots are thick, long starchy tubes with concentric circle holes running down the middle. When cut crosswise, they have a striking geometric design. There are endless ways of cooking lotus roots, but this is my very favorite recipe. I hope you give it a try. If you have an Asian supermarket nearby, they likely carry lotus root, either fresh or vacuum-packed.
ganbian lotus root
approximately 1 pound lotus root
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
8 or more dried chilies cut in half (preferably Sichuanese)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
an equivalent amount of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2-3 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
salt to taste
Wash and peel the lotus root. Trim off the ends. Slice crosswise to the thickness of your liking, anywhere from 1/8-inch to 1/2-inch.
Heat 2 teaspoons light oil in a medium-low wok. Add the lotus root and stir-fry about 10 minutes, until lightly seared on the edges. If some of the smaller pieces are finished earlier, remove them from the wok with chopsticks and continue cooking the larger pieces until all are cooked through. Remove the lotus root and set aside in a bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons fresh oil in the wok over a high flame. Add the chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir-fry briefly until they are fragrant. Quickly add the garlic, ginger, and scallions and stir-fry until they are fragrant. Add the cooked lotus root and stir the ingredients together. Add salt to taste.