Renkon means lotus root in English, and is a great source of vitamins and minerals. They are deliciously crunchy, with a slightly sweet after taste – have a look in your local Asian grocery for them next time you’re out. If you can’t find them, you can use egg plant (aubergine) or even green peppers (capsicum) instead. Hasami means to put in between two things (like this hamburger shape!) and yaki means to fry. That’s your Japanese lesson for the day
This is a traditional dish usually made with chicken mince, but here in Sydney chicken mince is a bit expensive and a little dry, so I prefer cooking with pork mince.
16 slices of lotus root
400g minced pork or chicken
1 thumb ginger (minced)
5-10 shiso leaves (optional)
1tsp soy sauce
1tbs sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 bunch spring onions or 1 leek
1tsp sesame oil
3tbs soy sauce
1tsp potato starch
Slice the lotus root into 1/2 cm slices and soak them in water with a little vinegar for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, mince the ginger and chop the shiso leaves and spring onion. Add the to a bowl with the minced meat.
Shake any excess water off the lotus roots and then lay to dry on some kitchen paper. Place some more kitchen paper on the top of the roots to soak as much as the water as possible. Then sieve a thin layer of flour over them. In the bowl, add the soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, sesame seeds if you have them and a good pinch of salt. Then mix well with your hands until the mixture becomes sticky.
Take one of the lotus roots (floured side up) and put some of the meat mixture on top. Then sandwich another of the roots (floured side down), and press down quite firmly, so some of the meat enters the holes of the lotus root and some mixture spills out the side. The flour will ensure the meat sticks well. Round off the edge by trimming any of the mixture if necessary to make a cleanish line. Meanwhile, heat some cooking oil in a frying pan on medium/high heat and fry when ready. You will probably have some meat left over, so just roll it into balls and you can either fry them together with the lotus roots or use them in another recipe.
Mix all the sauce ingredients except the potato starch and water, then pour over the food and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer gently for five minutes. Then remove the food, turn off the heat and make a mix of potato starch and water. Pour it into the sauce remaining in the pan and stir to prevent it from congealing. It is important your pan is now off the heat and you continue to stir so the sauce thickens. Finally, pour this sauce over you hasami yaki and you’re ready to eat. These are usually served with plain white rice and accompanied by beer or sake.