Nomz continues its spotlight of our wholesome and clean ingredients by turning our focus towards the lotus, a star ingredient of both our Spare Rib Lotus Root soup (stem) and the Mighty Mung Bean soup (seeds).
A fibrous vegetable, the lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is an aquatic plant native to tropical Asia, Australia and surrounding areas. Its roots (or more properly, rhizomes or stems) plant in the soil of a body of water, and the lotus sprouts upwards with leaves and flowers blossoming above the water surface.
Visual Diagram of the Lotus Plant (photo credit: digthedirt.com)
Lotuses and waterlilies may look similar, but as with Asian ethnicities, avoid confusing them as they are from different taxonomic families. One tell-tale difference lies in where the leaves and flowers rest. For waterlilies, they sit on the water surface. What a cool fact to mention on your next date to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens ("BBG")!
Popular for visual, religious and practical reasons, the lotus is the national flower of India and Vietnam. Many Asian divinities such as the Hindu god Vishnu are depicted as seated on a lotus flower, which in Buddhism symbolizes “the purity of the body, speech and mind floating above the muddled waters of material attachment and desire”(1). Not only are they beautiful, lotuses have several practical uses including as an herbal tea in China ( liánhuā cha, 蓮花茶), Korea (Yeonkkotcha, 연꽃차) and Vietnam (trà sen), as an ingredient in soups (Nomz!) or as a fried side dish in India (thamara vathal). While its uses in cooking, medicine, and baking are too numerous to fully list, the lotus plant is truly a versatile actor – the Ryan Gosling of aquatic flora.
The health benefits of lotus root has long been prized in traditional Asian medicine. Low in cholesterol/fat and high in fiber, lotus root is known to support proper digestion (fiber content), ward away colds (high vitamin C content), boost the overall immune system (high concentrations of vitamin C and minerals including magnesium, potassium and iron) and may help certain types of liver disease (2,3) While it has beneficial properties, we added lotus root to our spare rib soup primarily for its clean and refreshing taste. It's the perfect complement to succulent cuts of certified heritage Berkshire pork and light glass noodles.
To see the lotus in action, head on over to the Lily Pool Terrace (@ the BBG) where one can see waterlilies and lotuses side-by-side, turning the water surface into a verdant tapestry of blooms and greenery. And as you happily lean into your companion to admire the view, don’t forget to whisper how to distinguish between the water lily and the humble lotus plant – it just may be the very moment s/he remembers for the day!
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More information about our wholesome Asian soups for busy individuals can be found at eatnomz.com
(2) Study shows tannins contained in lotus root can alleviate hepatic steatosis in the livers of test mice - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228742/
(3) From a nutrition standpoints, the lotus root is a powerhouse: every 100 grams yields vitamin C (73% of daily recommended intake), protein (5%), Vitamin B1/B2/B6 (13%/17%/20%), iron (14%), potassium (16%), and magnesium (6%) - source
Sources: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5