In THE DEADLIEST HATE, when Miriam is in Caesarea, she takes the side streets to avoid not only the traffic but the assassins who could be lurking in the shadow of every portico, the shade of every alley, and the plume of every cloud of dust. And so, along the lanes, she peeks over the lattice fences to see the pools of floating lotus lilies, their delicately-scented flowers unfurled for their morning pollinators.
Sunk into the mud of the pool, the lotus root is actually the stem of the plant. Growing as long as four feet, it rises out of the water and ends in the elegant flowers. (For more on the flowers, see my blog “More than Beautiful” on August 27, 2019.)
Lotus root is in season in the fall, yet it is available at other times of the year in whole or packaged form. Look for fresh lotus root that is heavy and firm, with no soft spots or bruising. Once the stem has been peeled, soak it in vinegar to preserve its pale-colored flesh. Packages of cut and sliced lotus root, which often come in a solution of water and salt, can be used in the same way as fresh lotus root.
A classic preparation is stir-frying, which highlights the crunchy yet tender texture of the stem. Pair it with other vegetables that are also tender and crisp, such as sugar snap peas, snow peas, asparagus, and celery. Stir it with plenty of sauce, such as a bottled teriyaki sauce, which adds much needed depth to the mild taste of the stem.
With the cooking so quick, you’ll have plenty of time to read a Miriam bat Isaac mystery. Just click here, and pick one. You can read them in any order.