A relative of the water lily, the lotus is an aquatic plant that grows in marshes and shallow ponds. The tuberous root of the plant is found in the mud below the surface.
The exterior of the root is not particularly attractive, resembling a large, buff colored link of sausages, with each link about 8 inches long. However, channels running through the root give cut slices a delicate, lacy appearance.
Lotus root adds a crisp texture and sweet flavor to Chinese stir-fries, soups and salads, where they are often added raw. Deep-fried lotus root is a popular garnish. You'll frequently find candied lotus root in Chinese New Year Trays of Togetherness (also called Harmony Trays), as a symbol of abundance.