Heat oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add garlic, cutside down, and sear over medium heat for 1 minute. Add sliced garlic and ginger and lotus root and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add sugar and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until slightly caramelised.
Add shao hsing wine and stir-fry for 1 minute. Lastly, add vinegar and soy sauce and stir-fry for a further minute. Serve immediately, garnished with chilli, if desired.
As this is such a simple dish, the crunch and delicate flavour of fresh lotus root is essential. The halved and seared garlic bulb infuses the oil with a subtle garlic flavour, but is not meant to be eaten.