I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine, the lotus root. He is a little bashful (many people think he looks bizarre), but once you get to know him, I think you'll be making regular dinner plans with him! (In my "personification" of the lotus root, I will refer to it as "him" because I like assigning vegetables the male gender and fruits the female gender!)
The lotus root has an interestingly crisp and fibrous texture. When lotus root is cooked, it is not mushy or soft as it might appear. If you've never tried lotus root, the best textural analogy I can conjure up for you is that it feels like you are eating partially-cooked daikon, slices of raw jicama, or a coarse and flavorless Asian pear. Except, lotus root feels as if it has developed stringy fibers that are interwoven throughout the trunk of the root. Even when cooked, lotus root still has a raw celery-type crispness to it.
The flavor of lotus root is equally unique. But, for lack of a better analogy, I would say that lotus root shares the same subdued nuttiness that one finds in daikon. Others have compared the flavors of lotus root to water chestnuts.
The wonderful thing about lotus root, is that it has absorptive qualities that make it the tofu of the vegetable world. Lotus root takes on the characteristics of the sauces in which the it is cooked. The symmetrical holes in the root are the perfect repositories for storing little beads of sauce that are held together by surface tension.
I hope one look at this vegetable equivalent of Swiss cheese will pique your interest in learning how to cook it. You can eat it raw, in soups, and in stir-fries. Just peel off its skin and remove the knobby ends. Then slice the lotus root into thin wheels and cook it in anyway you please. For easier cooking, you can also purchase it canned!