Rice-stuffed lotus root

Rice-stuffed lotus root

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

If you go to Shanghai, take the train to Qibao, once a sleepy water town that has now been completely subsumed by urban creep. The street food there is legendary (read: ‘you won’t be having the place to yourself — it gets packed’) and specialties such as this abound. We’ve included this in our dessert line-up as it’s achingly sweet but, strictly speaking, the Chinese would eat this as a vegetable dish with a selection of meats and other mains.


Quantity Ingredient
800g lotus root
250g glutinous rice, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
575g caster sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cornflour
dried osmanthus flowers, to serve (optional)


  1. Peel the lotus roots and cut a 3 cm piece from one end of each link, reserving the cut ends. Divide the soaked, drained rice between the two links. Using a skewer, push the rice into the cavities in each link; each cavity should be about 75–80 per cent full of rice (you need to leave some room for the rice to expand when it cooks). You may not need all the rice; this will depend on the size of the lotus holes.
  2. Replace the reserved ends on each link, securing them well with toothpicks. Place the stuffed lotus roots in a steamer, place over a wok or saucepan of boiling water, then cover tightly and steam for 3 hours, adding more water to the wok as necessary. Remove the lotus roots and set aside.
  3. Combine 500 ml water and 460 g of the sugar in a saucepan (large enough to hold the lotus roots snugly) and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Add the lotus roots and cook, turning occasionally, for 1 hour. Cool in the syrup.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the remaining sugar, the honey and 250 ml water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Combine the cornflour with 3 teaspoons water in a small bowl and stir to form a smooth paste, then add the paste to the simmering syrup, stirring until the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove the pan from the heat and cool.
  5. To serve, remove the toothpicks and trim the ends from the lotus root links to neaten them. Using a sharp knife, cut the roots into 1 cm thick slices and arrange them on a serving plate. Drizzle with the thickened honey syrup, sprinkle over a few osmanthus flowers, if using, and serve.
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