If you haven’t eaten lotus stem – and I am always surprised, having grown up in South East Asia where they are commonly found, by how many people haven’t – it is similar in taste to the crunchy, raw water chestnut. Slightly bland, crisp, with a fibrous texture and the lack of any dominating flavour, like tofu, it takes on the taste elements of any sauce or ingredients it is cooked in. I’m a fan of this unusual “vegetable”, once common in Indian cuisine but becoming rarer. Below is an easy recipe you can impress your friends with – simple to make, with lovely colour and exciting flavour!
- 3 medium sized fresh lotus stems, peeled (about 300g)
- 50 g moong bean noodles
- 1½ teaspoons salt – divided
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 green onion stalks, finely chopped
- 6 basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons mildly hot red chilies
- 1½ tablespoons vinegar
- soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar Click here to buy
- ½ teaspoon paprika (optional – for colour)
- 3 teaspoons sesame seeds, lightly dry roasted
- 2 1/2 tablespoons corn or sunflower oil
- Slice lotus stem into thin slices along the diagonal. Steam for 5-7 minutes until cooked through.
- Soak moong bean noodles as per direction in hot water for 2-3 minutes. When soft toss with ½ teaspoon salt, sesame oil and add green onions and basil and put in serving bowl.
- Combine garlic, red chilies, and vinegar in a small food processor and process until you get a bright red paste.
- Heat the remaining oil in a 6” frying pan. Add garlic-chili paste. Stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Add lotus stem pieces and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until nicely coated with garlic chili mixture. If you would like a “redder’ finish, add paprika.
- Add soya sauce and brown sugar stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until lotus pieces are nicely caramelized and slightly browned.
- Place lotus stem pieces on prepared moong bean noodles. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
Lotus root is unique in flavour and texture and is basic to this recipe. Use the freshest root you can find, which is not very fibrous. You can substitute Kashmiri chili powder for paprika. Basil can be substituted with fresh coriander.