How to cook and eat dried lotus seeds?

Dried lotus seeds have become a popular ingredient in various cultures and cuisines across Asia, particularly in countries like China, Vietnam, India, Japan, and Korea. They boast a long history of culinary and medicinal use in these regions, and today, they have gained worldwide popularity. For convenience, many households opt to store dried lotus seeds and use them as needed instead of buying fresh ones. Therefore, let me show you how to cook dried lotus seeds and suggest ways to enjoy them by combining them with other familiar ingredients.

What are lotus seeds and how dried lotus seeds are made?

Lotus seeds are the seeds of the lotus flower. The lotus plant is an aquatic perennial native to Asia but also cultivated in other parts of the world.

From fresh lotus seeds, the process of making dried lotus seeds involves several steps:

  1. Harvesting: Lotus seeds are harvested when the lotus flowers are in bloom. The timing of the harvest is crucial, as it impacts the quality and flavor of the seeds. Typically, harvesters collect them approximately 27 to 30 days after the lotus flowers have bloomed.
  2. Removal of Outer Shell: After harvesting, remove the seeds from the lotus flower’s seed pod. Simply peel away the outer shell or husk to expose the inner seed.
  3. Drying: The drying process is employed to remove moisture from the seeds. These seeds are then dried either through sun-drying or by using specialized drying machines.
  4. Packaging: Once the lotus seeds are adequately dried, they are packaged and prepared for distribution and consumption. Proper packaging ensures that the dried lotus seeds retain their quality and stay fresh for an extended period.
how to cook dried lotus seeds
Fresh lotus seeds

Dried lotus seeds are distinctive in appearance and texture. They are small, round or oval-shaped seeds with a firm outer shell and a light-colored interior. They possess a hard, crunchy texture and are featured in several sweet and savory dishes, including soups, desserts, stir-fries, and snacks.

dried lotus seeds
Dried lotus seeds

Nutrition facts and health benefits

In addition to their culinary uses, people value lotus seeds for their potential health benefits. They are a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and minerals, making them a nutritious addition to one’s diet.

Dried lotus seeds are not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients. A 100g serving of dried lotus seeds provides approximately 350 calories, 63-68 grams of carbohydrates, and 17-18 grams of protein. Additionally, they are rich in minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. Lotus seeds have a sweet taste and are considered neutral in traditional Chinese medicine. Regular consumption of lotus seeds can help nourish the spleen and calm the mind, proving beneficial for individuals with weakness, sleep problems, and high blood pressure.

How to cook dried lotus seeds?

Boiling is the simplest and most popular method for cooking dried lotus seeds, but it does require some preparation. Once boiled, lotus seeds can be incorporated into a variety of dishes. Let’s explore how to boil them on a stove and in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker.

Boiling dried lotus seeds on the stove:

  • Begin by soaking the dried lotus seeds in hot water for at least 2 hours. This step helps to soften the seeds and reduces the cooking time.
how to cook dried lotus seeds
It’s a must to soak dried lotus seeds in hot water for at least 2 hours.
  • After soaking, drain the water and rinse the seeds. It’s important not to rinse the seeds with cool water as this can cause them to harden. Instead, rinse them with warm or hot water. Then, you can remove the remaining lotus seed cores (lotus hearts) as they are very bitter.
how to cook lotus seeds
  • In a pot, add water and bring it to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, add the lotus seeds.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the lotus seeds for 30-45 minutes, or until they reach your desired level of softness. While they are simmering, skim off any foam that forms on top to better observe the seeds. To test if they are fully cooked, try smashing a lotus seed between your fingers. It should be soft yet still hold its shape.
skim foam while boiling lotus seeds
Skim foam while boiling lotus seeds.
  • Finally, drain the water, and the lotus seeds are now ready to be used in various recipes.

Cook in an instant pot/pressure cooker:

If you prefer a quicker cooking method, you can use an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker:

  • Add boiling water and the soaked, rinsed dried lotus seeds to the pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
boiling lotus seeds in instant pot
Cook lotus seeds in pressure cooker.
  • Close the lid of the pressure cooker or Instant Pot and cook the lotus seeds under medium pressure for 15-20 minutes.
  • After the cooking time is complete, release the steam and allow the lotus seeds to soak in the remaining heat for 10-15 minutes more.
  • Remove cooked lotus seeds from water.

The disadvantage of boiling lotus seeds in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker is that you can’t test the doneness of your lotus seeds on the go. This can easily lead to overcooked or undercooked seeds. Therefore, the timing I suggest above is to achieve medium doneness. You should test the seeds to decide if you need to cook them a bit more.

how to cook lotus seeds
These lotus seeds are a bit overcooked in pressure cooker, so they’re very soft. It’s good for making lotus seeds paste but not for desserts or salads.

Cook in a steamer

  • Besides boiling in a regular or Instant Pot, you can also steam lotus seeds. This cooking method ensures that all the seeds are cooked evenly without tearing any of them. The duration of steaming is similar to boiling in a regular pot, about 45 minutes on medium heat. To steam, line a cheesecloth in the steaming tray and then spread the soaked lotus seeds on it.
How to cook lotus seeds by steaming
  • If you don’t have time to soak the lotus seeds before cooking, you can still cook them without pre-soaking. Simply follow the same cooking process, but increase the cooking time to 30 minutes. After cooking, let them soak for an additional 15 minutes.

Regardless of the cooking method, there is an important note: you should not soak or rinse the seeds in cool or cold water before cooking. Always soak them in boiling or at least hot/warm water. This is to prevent the seeds from becoming rough.

Store the cooked lotus seeds in the fridge for a maximum of 3 days or freeze them for up to 3 months. To incorporate the cooked lotus seeds into another dish, take them out of the fridge or freezer and add them to the dish towards the end of the cooking process, as they are already cooked.

How to eat dried lotus seeds?

You can enjoy dried lotus seeds in various ways, as they add a unique texture and flavor to your dishes. In Japan and Korea, people use lotus seeds in traditional confections like wagashi in Japan and yeot-gangjeong in Korea. In Vietnam and China, some well-known recipes include lotus seed sweets, lotus seed herbal soups, or lotus seed rice dishes. Here are some suggestions to make the most of this wonderful ingredient in your daily meals:

Sweet Dishes

  • Lotus Seed Dessert: Lotus seeds are a popular ingredient in sweets and herbal desserts. You can make a simple sweet syrup by boiling water with sugar, brown sugar or rock sugar, then add boiled lotus seeds to the syrup. Simply enhance the flavor by adding other ingredients such as red dates, lychee or longan. Always remember to add the boiled lotus seeds after the other ingredients are cooked and the water is boiling.
how to cook dried lotus seeds
Lychee and lotus seeds sweet soup
Lotus seeds sweet soup with red dates
Lotus seeds sweet soup with red dates
  • Candied lotus seeds: Vietnamese and Chinese people often savor candied lotus seeds as a traditional treat during the Lunar New Year holiday. To prepare them, they simmer lotus seeds with sugar in a 1:1 ratio until they become dry with a sugary coating on the outside of each lotus seed. These candied lotus seeds make for a delightful snack or gift.
  • Lotus Seeds Paste as a Filling for Cakes: Lotus Seeds Paste is a traditional filling in China and used to be considered as a luxurious ingredient. The popular dishes with Lotus Seeds Paste are mooncake, snow skin mooncake, lotus seed bun or dimsum.
Flower Snow Skin Mooncake

Savory Dishes

  • Salad with cooked lotus seeds: Incorporate cooked lotus seeds into your salads as a source of protein, carbohydrates, and various other nutrients. They offer a satisfying crunch and can complement a variety of vegetables and dressings.
  • Chinese herbal soup: Lotus seeds are a common ingredient in Chinese herbal soups. You can try a Chinese herbal chicken soup recipe that includes lotus seeds, red dates, and carrots. The lotus seeds contribute a subtle sweetness to the soup, making it both nourishing and delicious.
Chinese herbal chicken soup

With their exceptional nutritional value and unique flavor, dried lotus seeds make a wonderful addition to any kitchen. So, go ahead, experiment with different recipes, and savor the delicious and nutritious benefits of dried lotus seeds!

how to cook dried lotus seeds

Cooking Dried Lotus Seeds

Yield: 1kg
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

For convenience, many households opt to store dried lotus seeds and use them as needed, instead of buying fresh ones. Therefore, let me show you how to cook dried lotus seeds and suggest ways to enjoy them by combining them with other familiar ingredients.

Ingredients

Instructions

Boiling dried lotus seeds on stove:

  • Begin by soaking the dried lotus seeds in hot water for at least 2 hours. This step helps to soften the seeds and reduces the cooking time. After soaking, drain the water and rinse the seeds. It's important not to rinse the seeds with cool water as this can cause them to harden. Instead, rinse them with warm or hot water.How to cook lotus seeds
  • In a pot, add water and bring it to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, add the lotus seeds.boil lotus seeds
  • Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the lotus seeds for 30-45 minutes, or until they reach your desired level of softness. While they are simmering, skim off any foam that forms on top to better observe the seeds. skim foam while boiling lotus seeds
  • To test if they are fully cooked, try smashing a lotus seed between your fingers. It should be soft yet still hold its shape. Boiled Lotus Seeds
  • Incorporate with other ingredients, such as red dates or longan. Lotus Seed Sweet Soup with Red Dates Lotus Seeds Sweet Soup with Red Dates

Cook in an instant pot/pressure cooker:

If you prefer a quicker cooking method, you can use an instant pot or pressure cooker:

  • Add boiling water and the soaked, rinsed dried lotus seeds to the pressure cooker or Instant Pot.boiling lotus seeds in instant pot
  • Close the lid of the pressure cooker or Instant Pot and cook the lotus seeds under medium pressure for 15-20 minutes.pressure cooker
  • After the cooking time is complete, release the steam and allow the lotus seeds to soak in the remaining heat for 10-15 minutes more.Boil lotus seeds in instant potBecause we can't open while the pressure cooker is cooking, it's unable to skim the foam, so the water is turbid.
  • Remove cooked lotus seeds from water. The disadvantage of boiling lotus seeds in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker is that you can't test the doneness of your lotus seeds on the go. This can easily lead to overcooked or undercooked seeds. Therefore, the timing I suggest above is to achieve medium doneness. You should test the seeds to decide if you need to cook them a bit more.how to cook lotus seeds

Cook in a steamer

  • Besides boiling in a regular or Instant Pot, you can also steam lotus seeds. This cooking method ensures that all the seeds are cooked evenly without tearing any of them. The duration of steaming is similar to boiling in a regular pot, about 45 minutes on medium heat. To steam, line a cheesecloth in the steaming tray and then spread the soaked lotus seeds on it. How to cook lotus seeds by steaming
  • If you don't have time to soak the lotus seeds before cooking, you can still cook them without pre-soaking. Simply follow the same cooking process, but increase the cooking time to 30 minutes. After cooking, let them soak for an additional 15 minutes.Chinese herbal chicken soupChicken Herbal Soup with Cooked Lotus Seeds.

Notes

If you don’t have time to soak the lotus seeds before cooking, you can still cook them without soaking. Simply follow the same process but increase the cooking time to 30 minutes. After cooking, continue to soak them in boiling water (boiling method) or leave them in steamer (steaming method) for 15 minutes more.

An important note: you should not soak or rinse the seeds in cool/cold water before cooking. Always soak them in boiling or at least hot water. This is to prevent the seeds from being rough.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 223

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