I’m fast becoming more than a little impressed with the humble lotus flower. The purple stalk (bong sung) furnishes the vast Bun mam hedgerow and is filled with a crunchtastic zap. It’s seeds (sen) litter the ricemungus Com sen from Ngu Vien restaurant and can be procured as a snack snip outside Ben Thanh Market. The flowers are groovy. And it grows in mud. Now, I discover you can gobble the roots of this ‘leave nothing to waste’ plant.
Trai au (lotus roots) look prehistoric or Stag beetle-esque, doncha think? You crack open the tough outer skin with your teeth and inside you’ll find a white pulpy centre. It’s slightly sweet, a tad earthy and not unlike a traditional English Horse chestnut.
It seems there’s very little you cannot eat, use or look at contemplatively from a lotus flower. Trai au cost bugger all – a 2,000VD bag is more than enough for one root snack head. What a fantastic hardy perennial. Respect. This seller also flogs dried fish, strawberries and when they’re in season i.e. now – she also sells Vietnamese blackberries. Not sure what they’re called, don’t have a pic of them, but they’re a bit sour and I’m wondering whether or not they’d work for a blackberry pie or crumble. Hmmm??