I wonder why I haven’t by now written a nice text about renkon. Renkon – an edible lotus root, is such a nice product having so much symbolism and so much benefits. The first thing that comes to mind about renkon is that renkon has gender winter because it is eaten in the winter months, when people suffer from snorring and cough and are looking for something to cure it. But it was not a cold that provoked me, although it is true that we have winter now. Something else brought my mind to the lotus. I had an honor of holding in my hands a true Japanese fumie in the shape of a Christian cross, and on that cross was not Jesus Christ, but someone like Buddha and the man was sitting on lotus in lotus posture right in the center of the iron cross. It surprised me and since then I keep thinking not only about fumie, but also of renkon. Lotus.
First I have to explain what fumie is. It’s something you can step on. “Fumu” means stepping on and “e” is a picture or image. Thus, several hundred years ago, the Japanese ruling officials forced the people who professed Christianity to deny their faith. It was not enough to confess their denial by words, it was necessary to step on the image of their faith. Endo Shusaku writes about it in his novel Silence. The book impressed me deeply. I have never been able to decide what would be the correct act and path for the priest, the protagonist who, out of compassion for the suffering of others, finally put his foot on the fumie. And now, unexpectedly, the Buddha and the lotus have entered into my still open story. The first what I did when back home was that I consulted the Internet. I read there, among many other things, that the holy prayer taughed by Jesus “Our Father” is essentially the same as the lotus sitting technique in Buddhism both helping us to desire love. I thought about it, but in the end I decided to go back to plain renkon. To what I know, what I can describe and what can be eaten.
Do you know what Renkon looks like? They remind fatty sausages in line which have in their meat holes similar to those in the Emmental cheese. However, the perforation of renkon the vegetable is much more systematic. Actually they look gorgeous. The image of a sliced renkon is as beautiful as flowers are beautiful. No wonder that this character of renkon is often used in Japanese gastronomy. The holes can be filled with filling, and when the „sausages“ are cut into slices, the two-colored renkon flowers bloom on the plate and brighten the diners’ faces. We at Miyabi renkon usually just cook in dashi and color with beetroot juice. They become pink flowers. Sometimes I need for my dish renkon in yellow collor making it a little sour with fragrance of yuzu, so we do so. Renkon is also great as kimpira, means lightly roasted in oil and then simmered in dashi with soy sauce. Thanks to the texture and indistinct taste of renkon, it is also suitable for tempura. The batter does not seal the holes neither cover them. After beening fried, renkon looks as if behind a soft sheet. Renkon is The material. I learned from the net that also seeds and lotus flowers are adible. In Chinese medicine, dried flowers are said to be used for toothache.
Renkon is a treasure. But when I came to Japan many decades ago, I didn’t know that renkon existed in the world. The first I met renkon was in mountains when we went skiing. In every mountain hut, just like in our country cabbage soup with sausage is served, in Japanese buffets, skiers buy a rich soup called butajiru. Boiled pieces of pork for the basis of the soup. It is, of course, thickened with soy miso paste. In the soup carrots, leeks and various other vegetables are used, but what is definitely not to be missed is the renkon. Renkon is good for preventing colds, as you already know. The gender of renkon is winter. It would be probably ginger and ginger tea wich you rather combine with winter, because it is strong taste and burns the neck, but renkon, it is different. Renkon is very inconspicuous and at the same time so highly beneficial. It is low in calories, rich in fiber and has a lot of vitamins and minerals, which all together helps good digestion, improves immunity and maintains a good mood. It is a pity that people in our Czech households use renkon only a little. But the situation is getting better, because I can see that it is already on market – for example, Rohlík offers renkon. You can buy rencon dried, frozen, in foil in a liquid or fresh in SAPA. If you don’t know what to do with renkon, buy it anyway. Cook the lotus slices and add them to your salad, for example. It simply fits into everything, because it is friendly to the neighboring other materials and does not fight with them. Rather it adds beauty to them as well.
By now renkon is no longer an unknown material for you. Renkon, while speaking about nutritional qualities, inspires also with its spiritual qualities. Who wouldn’t know that lotus blooms on water surfaces and its flowers are very beautiful. White flowers. Pink. Purple. Which are more beautiful? Stupid to ask. Renkon stems bravely penetrate the water while leaving its roots in the mud at the bottom. We do not see them, only imagine. Lotus is a gentle and modest plant. Very persistent though. It heads up to the light. It is sometimes said that lotus flowers are like people, because people, although associated with sin, are each destined and adapted to love, and everyone has the right and duty to bloom into beauty. That’s what Christianity says, and I’m finally happy that the cross, Christ and the lotus root have come together into tight relationship. Perhaps the same mechanism helped the brave priest, who carried in his cross the stigma of his foot, which stepped on the sacred fumie. He then lived in Japan, used by the political “grace” and, almost certainly, ate renkon in many forms, because renkon is simply part of the daily Japanese diet.
Yours, Miyabi Darja