Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thai Basil with Lotus Root

Lotus root is a beautiful water vegetable.

When sliced, it makes for gorgeous presentation in this simple, vegan recipe.


1 can coconut milk

green curry paste (to taste- start with just about a quarter teaspoon until you taste how much spice it adds!)

1 small lotus root (I get mine at the Spring Valley International Food Market)

Tamari or soy sauce- about4 tablespoons, but again, go to taste

FRESH basil

1 cup mushrooms

1 red pepper

1 cup cauliflower

handful of bean sprouts (always rinse them well and wash your hands after handling them, bean sprouts can carry salmonella)

1/2 can peas

The lotus root should be peeled and sliced thinly. It has to be boiled until soft- this can take at least 20 minutes or more, so get it started first. The thinner the slices, the quicker it will soften up. The presentation of the lace-like root is such an impressive feature! The flesh of the root should be white fiberous.

Put the can of coconut milk into a large skillet. It will come out at first in a big blob with liquid around it, but it will warm up to a nice consistency. Put in about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the green curry paste, stirring to make it blend into the coconut milk. Add a bunch of fresh basil leaves, save some to use as garnish raw.

Put the lotus root into the coconut mixture as soon as it's firm but not crunchy.

Then put the cauliflower into the milk mixture, it will take the next longest to soften. I toss in the peppers and mushrooms and let everything simmer together for about 10 minutes. The peas and sprouts can go in last. (You can of course put whatever veggies you like into this, but the peas happen to be especially nice because they're a little sweet and the curry paste makes this dish spicy if you let it.)

I serve this over basmati rice or jasmine rice (smells like popcorn when it's cooking!)- pour lots of the coconut milk mixture into the rice and top with fresh basil which adds an enormous amount of aroma and flavor.


Oh, I don't know about calories or fat (who cares!), but this is a totally vegan recipe- no animal products at all. It has so much flavor, you will never notice. Really.

Tofu can be added at any time for extra protein too.

Don't bother with the lite coconut milk stuff- it just doesn't taste good. I know it's more calories, blah blah, just use this recipe sparingly, and don't skimp on the coconut milk- use the whole can.


David said...

Slight suggestion, based on the fact that my Culinary Institute of America teacher used this almost identical recipe for a pork stew that's the best thing ever...

When you put the coconut milk i, first only put in the thicker top inch or so that's the fat of the milk. Heat this and THEN put in the chile paste.

If you're a meat eater, use this to brown whatever meat you're putting in there. If you're a veg/vegan, use it to sear the vegetables. Having just the fatty part of the milk first will help distribute and brown the paste.

After the mixture changes color and the smell makes you want to eat the air vapor, put in the rest of the can.

This recipe in thailand also often calls for lime zest and for thai basil, which is a different plant that domestic basil, Jenni can tell you the exact name.

Also great in this dish is Yucca and even potatoes if you have none of the above.

Jenni said...

Wanting to eat the air vapor, a great way to describe this.
So wait, the liquidy stuff that comes out first is the fat, or the the gloppy stuff?
Where did I put my zester that Debbie got me for Christmas last year...it's around here somewhere.
Have you ever tried lotus root?

Anonymous said...

Thank's for the info what to do with the lotus root.
My husband just brought today it home and said: do something with it.
Wow and I have never even seen a lotus root before.
So, to the net and now I know the basic handling with it.
We have been doing chinese wok-recepies quite a lot during last year and I have sent my husband quite often to a Asian shop and surprise what he brought home today. Quite amused wife were I today. Best regards from Finland

Jenni said...

That's AWESOME!!! You made my day! I hope your dinner was wonderful!