I first encountered this vegetable as a side dish at a casual bbq restaurant in Zhubei. We were looking for a bit o’ greens to go with our otherwise quite meat-heavy meal, and this ended up being so delicious, we got a second round.
It is so flavorful, with a bit of crunch, and not fibrous at all (so you’re not chewing forever and ever). After falling in love with it, we ordered it as a side dish every chance we got. In most cases, the preparation involved garlic, ginger, and mushrooms, though I think this veggie could be good just about any way you prepare it.
On our most recent trip, we went to the traditional market and saw water lotus at our favorite vegetable stand. Here it is coiled up in its packaging at the market. Look at how long it is once you unfurl it!
Dad ended up preparing this with mushrooms and a bit of pork:
What I’ve learned about water lotus since:
- The vegetable is actually the stem of an aquatic plant that is native to tropical Asia. Most of the plant grows under water which is why it’s so succulent!
- It goes by several names including crested floating heart (because of the way the plant leaves float on the water’s surface) and white water snowflake because of the little white flowers that bloom.
- The latin name is Nymphoides hydrophylla.
- It’s associated with Meinong, a township in southern Taiwan close to Kaohsiung.
- It’s almost impossible to find this vegetable in the States (typical of a lot of Taiwan’s best produce)