Lily Root in Three Courses



The Incredible Edible Lily Root (yuri-ne in Japanese) is another one of those glorious root vegetables that I’ve been raving about in my blogs. Today I produced a three-course meal with two lily roots: an appetizer, a cream soup, and a stir-fry.

Lily root looks a bit like a head of garlic, but flatter. It usually comes to the consumer packed in sawdust. Kept this way, lily root can stay fresh for up to a month. 90% of Japan’s lily roots are produced in Hokkaido. (yay!)


Turn the lily root over and you’ll find a gnarly “belly button” that must be cut out before you can separate the “petals” of the root. This can be done easily with the pointy end of a potato peeler.


Carefully pry off the “petals” from the outer row of the root, working your way towards the center. When the “petals” have been separated, rinse them well in water to get all the dirt and sawdust out of the nooks and crannies. Place the lily root segments in vigorously boiling salted water for 30 to 60 seconds. You want the larger segments to become tender while retaining a bit of crunch. The small segments will cook faster than the larger ones. That’s okay because we’ll use the different parts in different dishes that suit how soft they’ve become. As soon as time is up, remove the lily root from the boiling water and dunk it into cold water to stop the cooking process. Now you’re ready for any number of lily root recipes.


Appetizer ingredients:

the larger of the lily root “petals”, 10
cream cheese, 10 teaspoons worth
black sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon
white sesame coated with picked plum powder, 1 teaspoon
parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon
curry powder, 1 teaspoon
purple perilla (shiso) flakes, 1 teaspoon

Roll 1 teaspoon worth of cream cheese into a ball. Make 10 balls all together. Roll two of the balls in the black sesame seeds to coat all over. Roll two of the balls in pickled plum-flavored sesame seeds to coat all over. Roll two of the balls in parsley flakes to coat all over. Well, you get the idea. Place one ball on each of the lily root petals and arrange them in a way that will set off the colors. I used ingredients I had on hand to produce five different colored cheese balls, but if you don’t have the same ingredients, use what you have on hand to make colorful balls.


Cream soup ingredients:

The smaller segments of the lily roots, a cup’s worth
chicken stock, 1 cup
milk, 1/3 cup
heavy cream, 1/4 cup
salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon butter, chopped chives

Assuming the lily root is already soft from the earlier prep, heat first three ingredients in a pot on the stove till hot, but not boiling. (If the lily root is not soft enough, let it cook for a minute in the stock before adding the milk.) Add the cream, salt, pepper and butter to the pot. Pour the whole mixture into a blender and blend till smooth. If there are any unblended chunks in the soup, strain it before pouring into bowls. Sprinkle the soup with chopped chives. My photo didn’t turn out so here’s one from the internet.


Stir-fry ingredients:

whatever lily root segments are left after making the appetizer and the soup
bacon, 3 slices cut into one-inch widths
okra, cut into thin cross sections, 1/2 cup
corn kernels, 1/2 cup
chikuwa (fish paste sausage with a hole through the middle), two or three cut into thin rings (optional)

Cook the bacon over low-to-medium heat in a wok or frying pan until the bacon is cooked and the pan has a coating of bacon fat. Raise the heat to high and add lily root segments, okra, corn, and chikuwa. Stir-fry for a minute or two. Add salt and pepper and whatever spices you like. Turn out onto a serving dish.


2 Responses to “Lily Root in Three Courses”

  1. Hi Debbie, I’ve never cooked with a Lily Root before these dishes look so tatsy.

    I also wanted to let you know I love exploring your blogs because you help me to understand so much of the Japanese culture. From the dishes in this blog to the etegami in your other blog. So I wanted to let you know that I have passed on the Sunshine Award to you. I thought about you because you have been so much of an inspiration to me. So thank you.

    Please stop by this link and pick up your award.

  2. How sweet of you Marisa! Thank you very much.

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