Braised lotus roots that are crunchy, sweet and savoury

Yeongeun jorim (sweet soya braised lotus root).
Yeongeun jorim (sweet soya braised lotus root). PHOTO: THE KOREA HERALD

(THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Yeongeun jorim is a popular fall side dish that is made with lotus roots. It is sweet, savoury and crunchy. It surely deserves a spot on your favorite basic side dish (mitbanchan) list.

To make the dish, you first peel and slice the lotus roots, and then pre-boil in water with a little bit of vinegar before braising. This is a technique Korean home cooks use to reduce the starch level and remove any bitterness from the lotus root.

As for the braising liquid, I simply used water as a base, but dashima broth or dried shiitake mushroom soaked water would add another layer to the flavour. You can also add a few slices of garlic or ginger, if you like. 

If you like the braised lotus root crunchier, reduce the pre-boiling time from the recipe. Likewise, if you want it softer and chewier, pre-boil longer. 

Ingredients

450g lotus roots (yeonguen)
1 Tbs vinegar
4 Tbs soya sauce
2 Tbs rice wine 
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs vegetable or canola oil
2 Tbs Korean rice malt syrup, jocheong (or corn syrup)
1/2 Tbs sesame oil 
1/2 tsp sesame seeds 

1. Cut the tough ends of the lotus root and peel the skin with a potato peeler.
2. Thinly slice the lotus root, about 0.6cm thick. 
3. Add the lotus root slices to a medium-size pot with enough water to cover them and a tablespoon of vinegar. Bring it to a boil and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
4. Drain and rinse with cold water. 
5. Return them to the pot. Add 1 cup of water and the soya sauce, rice wine, sugar and oil. Bring it to a boil. Continue to boil, uncovered, over medium high heat until the liquid is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to rotate the lotus root slices. 
6. Add the rice malt syrup (or corn syrup) and sesame oil, and stir well until the liquid is almost gone, three to four minutes. Keep your eyes on the pot to avoid burning the lotus root. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds to serve.
7. Keep the leftovers in the fridge. Coat with the sauce at the bottom when serving. 

By Ro Hyo-sun