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Thursday, August 19, 2010


Show me a fruit or vegetable I've never seen before, and I'll try it!

Recently I spotted something new at the supermarket. I couldn't read the name, but luckily I was with a Japanese friend who told me the thick light green stalks were lotus stems. Although lotus root is a common vegetable in Japan, my friend had never seen the stems on sale before. Of course I bought some and, after returning home, Googled lotus stem recipes to find out how to eat them. I found two main kinds of recipes that used lotus stems - Vietnamese salads,and Indian currys. Having a large quantity of stems at my disposal I was able to try both. I didn't have all the neccessary ingredients so I improvised  and what I made is rather different from the recipe I found. The results were very tasty anyway, so here are MY recipes!

500g of lotus stems cut in half lengthwise then into 2cm slices. 
juice of 1 lemon
100 grams julienned carrot
1 onion finely sliced and soaked in a little rice vinegar.
100g cooked prawns or shrimps
small block of silken tofu, drained and crumbled
50g 'Vietnamese pickles' (I used pickled myoga)
50-100g roasted unsalted peanuts (you can leave
them whole or chop them if you prefer)
finely sliced red chili
chopped fresh basil or coriander
fish sauce or soy sauce

Soak lotus stems in water and lemon juice for 15 minutes, then drain well.
Add  carrot and toss in 75g sugar. Leave for 30 minutes, then drain again.
Combine stems and carrot with prawns or shrimps, pickles, vinegared onion,  peanuts, roughly crumbled tofu, chili, and basil or coriander. Sprinkle with fish sauce or soy sauce to taste.

This salad was crunchy, fresh tasting, and totally delicious. You could maybe serve it with shrimp crackers.

300-400g  prawns (or mixed seafood)
300mls fish stock (Make it with prawn heads
and shells? I didn't. I'm a lazy cook.)
2-3 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 tablespoon of turmeric
150g lotus stems, cut into 5cm pieces
can of coconut milk

1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce
fresh basil or coriander

Mix curry paste and turmeric with fish stock.
Heat to simmering then add lotus stems and seafood.
Cook a few minutes then add coconut milk,
lemon or lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce or soy sauce. 
Serve sprinkled with roughly chopped herbs.

I ate this with chopped tomatoes and fresh mint (and white rice of course.) It was great!

Just a couple of weeks after this foray into lotus stem cuisine I traveled to Kurashiki. We ate a lunch that included sashimi at a canal-side restaurant in Kurashiki, and there under the sashimi, diagonally sliced and wafer thin, an exquisite garnish of pale green lotus stem. My Japanese companions didn't know what it was, but I did!

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