Lotus Leaf, Aroma in Late Summer

Lotus Leaf, Aroma in Late Summer 


If a lotus plant (water lily) were given to the Chinese, they would eat the whole thing—leaves for flavoring, seeds in dessert, roots in soup, dried flowers in meat, stems in salad and embryos and stamens for medicine. Originating in India about 2,000 years ago, the plant is now cultivated extensively in Southeast Asia (mostly in China), primarily for food, with much smaller amounts for herbal medicine. The whole plant is harvested in late summer when the seeds have matured.


Although the primary reason for the plant’s current widespread cultivation is to collect the roots (sometimes referred to as rhizomes) and seeds, the lotus leaf (heye) is frequently used in Chinese cooking because of its fantastic dark tea-like aroma, as well as its medicinal functions. The leaves can grow extremely large at times, reaching more than 18 inches in diameter. They are typically collected in the summer and autumn, cleaned, dried in the sun and cut into small pieces.


Based on the concepts of traditional Chinese medicine, the lotus leaf is slightly bitter and mild, and is attributed to the liver and spleen meridians. The main functions of the lotus leaf are to stop bleeding and to invigorate the blood. The lotus leaf has also become popular for promoting blood circulation by lowering blood lipids and treating the liver. 


Lotus leaves are also used as a popular ingredient in Chinese cooking (especially Cantonese cuisine). Dim sum chefs use them to wrap the rice for steaming, as the leaves give out a delicate herbal musk and color to the grains. In old times, people stuffed in many ingredients—rice, a chunk of chicken (usually bone-in), fatty pork, dried shrimp, mushroom, bamboo shoot and sometimes an egg. It filled people up who were getting ready for a long day of labor. Nowadays, probably due to the diet trend, the dish has been slimmed down to a light side dish, and is often served as dim sum at teahouses. Although the presentation has changed, the classic aroma is timeless. 


Source: http://gattinamia.blogspot.com, www.naturopathydigest.com,