The Vietnamese love the lotus plant
because it symbolizes purity and perfection. Every part of the plant is
used : the flowers are laid at shrines and temples; the stamens are
steeped to make a soothing tea, the seeds are dried for desserts and
cakes; and the stems and roots are sliced up for soups and salads, where
they absorb the flavors of the dressing while retaining a crunchy texture.
You may be lucky enough to fine fresh lotus steams in an Asian market, or
as here, you can use the ones preserved in brine.
For the dressing
Jar preserved lotus stems, drained and cut into 5 cm strips
Shallots, finely sliced
Fresh basil leaves, shredded
Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, for garnishing
Red Thai chilies, seeded and finely chopped
To make the dressing, mix together the
dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Peel the cucumber and cut it into thin 5
Soak the strips in cold salted water for
Put the lotus stems into a bowl of water.
Using a pair of chopsticks, stir the water constantly so that the loose
fibres of the stems wrap around the sticks. Drain the stems and put them
in a bowl.
Drain the cucumber strips and add them to
the bowl, then add the shallots, shredded basil leaves and the prepared
dressing. Leave the salad to marinate for 20 minutes before serving.