Lotus flowers are budding at Guyi Garden in Jiading District.
A lotus banquet featuring 22 lotus dishes created by 22 chefs is to be served at Guyi Garden in Jiading District during the flower's appreciation season.
One of the dishes is called "lotus fun." The chef uses lotus roots, shrimp meat and shell, lotus leaf and carrot to create four pairs of Mandarin ducks by a pond, depicted by jam in different colors.
For another dish, pumpkins are carved into two small ships, with lotus roots, corn and Chinese wolfberry placed inside.
The dish, named "lotus canopy sailing boat," is served on a green plate with a lotus flower alongside as decoration.
Lotus roots are also used to make a "shell" for shrimp balls, with chefs letting their imaginations run riot.
And, indeed, the lotus dishes are a feast for the eye.
For example, a bowl of drunken chicken is served on a lotus leaf with holes, under which dry ice is placed to create a smoking and cooling effect.
The lotuses come from Mata Lake in Shandong Province and are transported overnight to Shanghai to ensure freshness. "Compared with lotus in Shanghai, they taste crisper, juicier and more tender," said chief chef Li Jiangang, a master in creating authentic Nanxiang xiaolongbao — small steamed stuffed buns. He traveled across China to find the most suitable lotus materials.
For lotus flower and leaf used as decoration, Li uses products from Hongze Lake in Jiangsu Province. "They have brilliant color and good shape, which make lotus dishes have a pleasant look." Li said lotus used for appreciation is usually not recommended for eating because it can taste stale.
Lotus is rich in Vitamin C and minerals, and is good for heart and can help with metabolism. Lotus root starch has the function of both helping digestion and cooling one down.
The lotus dishes can be tasted at the garden's restaurant when the Shanghai Lotus Exhibition opens next month. Prices have not been set yet.
The exhibition featuring more than 400 varieties of lotus — in red, pink, green and white and including rare species — will run for a month from Sunday at the garden.
A variety of events, such as a lotus cuisine competition, lotus embroidery and gardening lectures, will be held during the exhibition.