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.