Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lotus Stem Salad with Shrimp--Goi Ngo Sen

 Although I spent several years living and working in Vietnamese refugees camps, lived in Vietnam for close to a year, and have visited the country half a dozen times, I don't think I had ever had this salad until a student brought it to a potluck in my class in Sacramento several years ago.  Essentially a salad of lotus stems and rau ram dressed with nuoc cham and topped with poached shrimp, it is a delightfully refreshing salad.  Served with some freshly fried shrimp chips which I had recently received from our friends in Vietnam, it made for a perfect lunch for a recent birthday.

This is an easy salad to put together.  The dressing can be easily adapted to your tastes, decreasing the sugar if you prefer a sharper dressing, increasing it if you prefer a sweeter one.  You may omit the garlic and chili from the dressing if you like; I prefer the note the chili adds.  Although freshly fried shallots are vastly superior to the ones you can buy in Asian markets, I used the purchase variety and they were satisfactory (and much, much easier).

I adapted this from several recipes.  One source was Authentic Recipes from Vietnam, a book that has a number of good recipes.  Another source was Mai Pham's Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table.  Pham gives the useful tip of stirring the cut stems for several minutes with disposable bamboo chopsticks while in a bowl of water.  The hair-like fibers from the cut stems wind around the bamboo.  Regular chopsticks don't work because they are too smooth. 

Goi Ngo Sen--Lotus Stem Salad with Shrimp
6 to 8 shrimp, poached, peeled, and halved lengthwise
1 8 oz jar of lotus stems, drained, cut into 2-inch lengths on the diagonal
3--5 TBS rau ram (daun laksa/Vietnamese coriander) chopped
2 TBS fried shallots
2--3 TBS roasted peanuts, chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 red chili, seeded and minced
2--4 tsp fish sauce
2 TBS fresh lime juice
1 1/2--2 TBS sugar

First, make the dressing by mixing the garlic, chili, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar.  Stir well to completely dissolve the sugar. 

After stirring the cut stems with the disposable chopsticks or bamboo skewers in a bowl of water for several minutes, drain.  Place in a shallow bowl and add the dressing and rau ram.  Mix well.  Place the halved shrimp on top.  Sprinkle with shallots and peanuts.  Serve with shrimp crackers.

I am submitting this to Delicious Vietnam #13, a monthly blogging event celebrating Vietnamese food.  Founded by Anh of A Food Lover's Journey, and Kim and Hong of Ravenous Couple, Delicious Vietnam welcomes submissions from bloggers around the world.   The roundup for Delicious Vietnam #13 will be hosted by Jing of My fusion kitchen. More information can be found here. Check out the roundup to find the details on who will be hosting Delicious Vietnam #14.


  1. YUM! I love simple salads like this. There's a combination of flavours and textures which makes Vietnamese food the greatest ever!

  2. I haven't eaten a lot of lotus stem salad actually. (I more often saw them in banh mi). Lovely recipe.


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