Sticky, fragrant & mildly sugary, sweet lotus root with sticky rice is one of the best ways to prepare this attractive vegetable. Follow my detailed recipe to make it with ease!
What Is Sweet Lotus Root with Sticky Rice
Known as Nuo Mi Ou/糯米藕 in Chinese, sweet lotus root with sticky rice is a speciality originating from the Jiang Nan/江南 region of China (where Shanghai, Hangzhou, etc. are located). Essentially, it’s lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice in its holes and simmered in a sugary liquid until tender. It’s served in slices with syrup or sweet Osmanthus sauce.
Different from many other lotus root dishes which showcase the crunchiness of this ingredient, sweet lotus root with sticky rice is characterized by its tender, sticky texture and its natural fragrance from both lotus root & sticky rice. Although having a sweet taste, this dish is usually served in a multi-course meal alongside savoury dishes. In other cases, you can find it sold as a snack by street vendors.
By the way, you can find more information about lotus root, buying and storage suggestions in my post “Spicy Lotus Root Stir-fry”.
Glutinous rice is gluten-free
I’m a big fan of glutinous rice (Nuo Mi, 糯米)! Also known as sticky rice (Japanese label it as sweet rice), this type of Asian rice produces a sticky, gooey texture when cooked. Although having zero content of gluten (just like other types of rice), its name “glutinous” can cause lots of confusion (I assume it refers to the glue-like stickiness).
You can find glutinous rice either in short-grain form or in long-grain form. Chinese households normally use the former, but the latter works just as well.
Soak the rice beforehand
Before you start preparing the lotus roots, soak the rice in water for at least 2 hours. To test, squeeze a few grains between your fingers. If they break easily, they are ready to go into the lotus roots.
Since the size of lotus roots differs, please be aware that the amount of glutinous rice required may vary a little. If you believe that your roots are bigger than the ones shown in the images below, slightly increase the quantity of the rice suggested in my recipe.
How to stuff lotus roots
For the best end result, I suggest you choose large-sized, chubby looking sections of lotus root. They have bigger holes thus can be filled with more rice. Here is the stuffing procedure:
1. Firstly, use a vegetable peeler to remove the thin skin of the lotus roots.
2. From one end of each section, slice off the top 1-2 cm to reveal the holes. Keep the cut-off pieces to serve as lids.
3. Fill the holes with rice. Pushing it down with a chopstick from time to time to make sure the holes are tightly packed.
4. Place the “lids” back on. Use 3-4 toothpicks to secure them. Do this gently and be careful not to break the flesh of the roots.
It’s a rather fiddly job and takes a bit of time to finish. But it’s a fun activity for young children to participate in!
Cook the stuffed roots
Now it’s time to cook the stuffed lotus roots in sugary water. I use dark brown sugar for its rich, caramel-like taste. Also, it colours the roots nicely giving them a more appetizing look. Dark muscovado, a type of less refined/unrefined cane sugar that contains molasses, is a good substitute.
For a more aromatic flavour, I add a few dried Chinese dates (jujube fruits/red dates) to the simmering liquid. As a popular ingredient in Chinese sweet dishes, such as Pear With Rock Sugar, Chinese dates have a milder sweetness than Arabic dates. They can be eaten raw when harvested in the Autumn. When dried, they develop a more sophisticated aroma which seasons sweet soup dishes very well. If unavailable, please feel free to skip them.
Follow these steps to cook the stuffed roots:
- Put the stuffed roots in a saucepan. Add dark brown sugar, Chinese dates (if using) and water (enough to cover the roots completely). It’s best to use a pan/pot that’s just big enough to fit the roots. This way you wouldn’t need too much water thus you won’t have an overly diluted sugary liquid.
- Bring the water to a full boil. Then turn the heat down to the lowest. Leave to simmer for about 2 hours until the roots become very soft to bite. Remember to flip the roots halfway (after about one hour) and add more hot water if necessary.
It takes much less time to cook these stuffed lotus roots in a pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 30 mins. Allow the pressure to be released naturally then open the lid.
Serve the dish
After cooking, leave the roots in the liquid to cool allowing them to soak up more flavour. Then transfer to a chopping board to slice. Remove the toothpicks then cut the stuffed roots into slices, 0.5 to 1cm in thickness. Now you can see the holes of the lotus roots are fully filled by the soft, sticky, aromatic rice.
To make the dish even tastier, you can use the remain cooking liquid to make a tasty syrup. Boil about 100 ml until it thickens. Then pour over the lotus root slices laid on a serving plate. In Chinese restaurants, they often add sweet Osmanthus sauce(Gui Hua Jiang, 桂花酱) to sweeten further and to add another layer of aroma. If you don’t have access to it, use regular honey instead.
Sweet lotus root with sticky rice (糯米藕)
- 70 g glutinous rice, ⅓ cup, see note 1
- 2 section lotus roots, see note 2
- 80 g dark brown sugar or dark muscovado, 1/2 cup
- 10 dried Chinese dates, optional
- Sweet Osmanthus sauce or honey
Stuff the root
- Soak glutinous rice in water for at least 2 hours. Drain well.
- Peel the lotus root. From one end of each section, slice off the top 1-2 cm to serve as lids.
- Fill all the holes of the lotus root with the rice. Pushing it down with a chopstick from time to time to make sure the holes are tightly packed.
- Place the “lids” back on. Use a few toothpicks to secure the lids (be careful not to break the flesh of the roots).
Cook the root
- Put the stuffed root into a small saucepan. Add dark brown sugar, Chinese dates and water (enough to cover the roots completely).
- Bring the water to a full boil. Turn the heat down to low. Leave to simmer for 2 hours. Flip the roots and add more hot water halfway through (see note 3 for pressure cooker method).
- Leave the root to cool in the water.
Serve the root
- Transfer the roots to a chopping board. Remove the toothpicks. Cut the roots crosswise into slices (0.5-1cm thick).
- Boil about 100 ml of the cooking liquid until it thickens. Pour it over the lotus root slices.
- Add Sweet Osmanthus sauce or honey them serve.
I hope my post has inspired you to give it a try. Let me know how you like this lotus root stuffed with sticky rice. You may leave a comment below or tag me @red.house.spice on Instagram.
Have a lovely time in your kitchen!