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Lotus root is my spirit vegetable. Its little holes look like portals into eternal happiness. 

We all watched in awe at that episode of Chef’s Table when zen chef Jeong Kwan tinted the holy discs while in a deep meditative state, with natural hues of turmeric and beetroot, laying them out in little bowls for the nuns to eat. Enlightenment food. 

Spring allium abundance in Tufnell Park, London

Food House in Chinatown serves my favourite way with lotus root, as a cold hors d’oeuvre. Sliced millimetre thin, the slippery discs slide over one another in a perfectly balanced salty dressing of chrysanthemum honey, rice vinegar and garlic, tumbled together with an array of red and green peppers, pickled shishito, and coriander. So good is this dish that I entered into an intense phase of visiting every single Sunday just to eat it alongside Food House’s marinated celery dish (also of the highest order), followed by default gelato at Gelupo.

Indeed I put lotus root on a pedestal, so high that for a while it felt like forbidden territory to cook it for myself at home. Recently, that changed. And I have entered into a new phase: cooking lotus root with everything.

To document this phase, this week I present two recipes: One, a spring iteration of my beloved Food House dish, putting to use three cornered leeks which are very similar to Chinese chives (in abundance across London right now), with its flowers as garnish and podded broad beans for pop. The second, a white pepper-heavy one-pot chicken and mushroom noodle dish in which the lotus root is long braised in sesame milk alongside the chicken. Both are delights: serve them alongside one another for the ultimate monastic experience or cook one or the other whenever the moment moves you. 

Hors d’oeuvre of lotus root with spring leeks and broad bean

The plated dish.

For 2 people

  • 2 bulbs lotus root
  • A generous bunch of three cornered leek (aka spring leek) – find your spot in London, oh urban forager, or DM me. Stems washed and chopped into 1cm pieces. Flowers reserved for garnish.
  • 200g root of ginger, peeled, julienned finely
  • 2 cloves of fresh or spring garlic, minced fine
  • 300g broad beans podded.

For blanching liquor

  • 1 l water
  • 200g root of ginger sliced
  • Handful of 3 cornered leek
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste  

For dressing 

  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Drop of sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar 
  • 1 jalapeno – sliced into matchsticks
  • 100ml sunflower oil

Peel lotus root carefully. Put on the fine setting of a mandolin to create discs 2mm thick. Place in cold water. 

Blanch broad beans for 1 minute in boiling water and place into iced water. Then when cool, squeeze out the beautiful green beans from inside, collect into a large mixing bowl.

Get blanching pot on with all your liquor ingredients. Bring to boil. And in lotus root and blanch for 10 minutes.

Use tongs to remove lotus root into a large mixing bowl with one ladle of its cooking liquor. 

The lotus root should taste salty, sweet and slightly sharp, having taken on the flavours of the aromats.

On top of your lotus in a mound, add your minced garlic, three cornered leek and julienned ginger.

Bring 100 ml of oil until just below smoking point and pour over garlic, ginger and leek – it should sizzle and fill the room with the aroma.

Now add the rest of your dressing ingredients into the bowl.

Toss broad beans, lotus root and dressing until glossy, there should be an adequate amount of liquor in the bottom of the bowl, which should taste perfectly balanced: sharp, salty, sweet, punchy with garlic with a sesame back note.

Plate onto a sharing platter and garnish with the flowers of your three cornered leeks. There should be a pool of the dressing on the plate.  Lotus root is a water vegetable and the dish is giving lily pond vibes.

A glass of sparkling wine with this will do very nicely!

One pot chicken and mushroom noodles with lotus root

This is a one pot chicken dish, potent with sarawak white pepper, and braised in a milk made by the pounded seeds of sesame loosened with water. The final sauce is what I’d describe as a salt and pepper sauce, brightened by the addition of winter tomatoes towards the end of the braise.

Serves 2


  • 4 bone in skin on chicken thighs, cut into small pieces with a cleaver 
  • 1 bulb of lotus root, carefully peeled, and sliced into water on the mandolin to 2mm thickness
  • 3 tbsp white pepper, ground roughly in mortar, Sarawak if poss 
  • 100g toasted sesame seeds, pounded in a mortar in batches, loosened with 300ml filtered water to form a milk 
  • 3 cornered leeks – 1 bunch finely chopped 
  • 100g root of ginger finely chopped 
  • 4 cloves spring garlic finely chopped 
  • 6 tomatoes – I used Sardinian camones, cut into segments
  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water for 15 minutes 
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 5 whole dried red chillies
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 200g Taiwanese knife-cut noodles

Take a wide pan and on medium heat, add white peppercorns until sizzling.

Add seasoned chicken skin side down and cook slowly on medium until the fat is crispy and rendered. 

Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Into chicken fat, add garlic, ginger, chillies, and three cornered leeks and fry until golden and shimmering. Then add lotus root and shiitake and fry a little before deglazing with dash of Shaoxing rice wine, 4 tbsp rice vinegar, a pinch of sugar, and a ladle of the mushroom liquor.

Return chicken into the pan and pour sesame milk into the gaps around the chicken, bring to the boil, turn down to very low heat and put on lid. 

Chicken braising in freshly pounded sesame milk and 3 cornered leek.

Leave for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until the chicken is tender coming away from the bone.

When the chicken is almost done, bring a pot of salted water onto the boil. Add in your noodles.

While noodles are cooking, add your tomatoes into the pot to finalise the braise – it’s ready when the tomatoes are soft and juicy.

To finish, drape your noodles into the top of the braising dish so it sits atop of the sauce, soaking up the juices. 

Bring pot to the table and serve.

Drape the noodles atop of the sauce.

Hannah Hammond is a London-based chef currently working at Leo’s on Chatsworth Road. Photography by Hannah Hammond.

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