While lotus stems may be abundant in Southeast Asia, they are quite uncommon in the U.S. When in season, asparagus makes a tasty substitute. String beans may be more available and work equally well. This is an easy and flavorful salad that can be made ahead.
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
- 3 shallots or 1/2 purple onion, cut into half-moon slivers
- 1 or 2 red chilies, seeded and cut into thin slivers
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 Tablespoons red miso
- 1 Tablespoon vegan sugar
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Few sprigs cilantro
- 1 small red chili, very finely minced
- Cut each cucumber section in half lengthwise. Then, cut each half into 4 stalks. Combine the water and salt, add the cucumber stalks, and marinate them for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill a 4-quart saucepan 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Plunge the asparagus into the boiling water in batches and blanch for 1 1/2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop them into a large bowl.
- Drain asparagus well and add the shallots and chilies. Drain the cucumbers thoroughly and add them to the asparagus mixture.
- Put the dressing ingredients into a small bowl and use a small whisk or fork to incorporate the miso into the liquid. Add the dressing to the asparagus and toss well. Set aside to marinate about 30 minutes.
- To serve, garnish with the cilantro and chili.