Ultimate Goi Ngo Sen Recipe: How to Make Vietnamese Lotus Stem Salad

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine diving into a dish that’s as vibrant and refreshing as a spring morning. That’s exactly what you get with Gỏi Ngó Sen, a traditional Vietnamese lotus stem salad known for its crisp texture and explosive flavor. This delightful salad blends the crunch of young lotus stems with the sweetness of shrimp and the tang of pickled carrots, creating a symphony of tastes and textures that are simply irresistible.

Originating from the lush landscapes of Vietnam, where lotus flowers symbolize purity and peace, this salad carries more than just great flavors—it’s steeped in cultural significance. Each bite offers a glimpse into the culinary traditions that have shaped Vietnamese cuisine. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or a curious cook, preparing Gỏi Ngó Sen at home can transport you straight to the heart of Vietnam, no passport needed. Ready to explore? Let’s dive into the refreshing world of this unique salad.

Ingredients

Embark on a culinary journey with this list of ingredients necessary to create your Gỏi Ngó Sen, a refreshing Vietnamese lotus stem salad with a delightful crunch and vibrant flavors.

For the Salad

  • 200g fresh lotus stems, thinly sliced and soaked in water with a bit of vinegar to retain crispness
  • 150g cooked shrimp, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 100g pickled carrots, julienned
  • 50g pickled daikon radish, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons fried shallots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 small red chili, seeded and finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons water

Prepare these ingredients ahead to save time and ensure a smooth preparation process, allowing the vibrant flavors to meld perfectly in your Gỏi Ngó Sen.

Equipment Needed

To make this delightful Gỏi Ngó Sen effectively, you’ll need a few kitchen tools that help in preparing and assembling the salad. Ensuring you have the right equipment ready before you start will streamline your cooking process and enhance your experience. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sharp Chef’s Knife: Essential for thinly slicing the lotus stems and herbs. A sharp knife ensures clean cuts without bruising the delicate ingredients.
  • Vegetable Peeler: Useful for peeling lotus stems if they’re not pre-peeled and for creating thin strips of carrots if you’re not using pre-pickled ones.
  • Mixing Bowls: You’ll need several sizes. A larger bowl is great for mixing the salad, while smaller ones can hold the prepared ingredients before you combine them.
  • Colander: Needed for rinsing the lotus stems and other fresh vegetables to ensure they are clean and free of any impurities.
  • Measuring Spoons and Cups: To accurately measure out seasoning and sauce components, ensuring consistent flavor throughout the salad.
  • Salad Spinner (Optional): If you’re using fresh herbs, a salad spinner ensures they are perfectly dry after washing, which helps in mixing the salad without diluting the dressing.
  • Mortar and Pestle or a Small Blender: Ideal for grinding peanuts for the topping or making the dressing if you prefer a homemade touch.

Make sure each of these items is clean and ready to use as you begin preparing your Gỏi Ngó Sen. Proper prepping not only saves time but also makes your cooking process a breeze, letting you focus more on the flavors and less on the fuss.

Preparation Steps

Now that you have your ingredients and kitchen tools ready, let’s start the actual prep work for your Gỏi Ngó Sen. Following these step-by-step instructions will help you achieve the best texture and flavor.

Cleaning and Preparing Lotus Roots

  1. Peel the lotus roots using a vegetable peeler. Make sure to remove the outer skin completely to expose the crisp, white interior.
  2. Slice the peeled lotus roots thinly, about 1/8 inch thick. This ensures they absorb the dressing well and maintain a pleasant crunch.
  3. As you slice, immediately place the lotus root slices into a bowl of cold water mixed with a little vinegar. This prevents them from browning and helps remove any residual dirt or grit.
  4. After slicing, drain the lotus roots and rinse them under cold running water. Pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or use a salad spinner to remove excess moisture.

Preparing Other Vegetables

  1. Wash all other vegetables thoroughly under cold running water. Even if the produce seems clean, washing is crucial to remove any unnoticed pesticides or dirt.
  2. Peel and julienne the carrots for a colorful contrast and a slight sweetness in your salad.
  3. Depending on your preference for spice, thinly slice the chili peppers. Remember to wash your hands immediately after handling them to avoid any irritation.
  4. Roughly chop the herbs—mint and cilantro—to release their fragrant oils, which will significantly enhance the flavor profile of the salad.
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season it with a pinch of salt to flavor the shrimp and pork as they cook.
  2. Add the shrimp to the boiling water. Let them cook until they turn pink and opaque, typically about 2-3 minutes. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process and keep them firm.
  3. In the same boiling water, add the pork belly. Cook it until it’s no longer pink in the center, about 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness.
  4. Transfer the cooked pork to a cutting board. Once cool enough to handle, slice it thinly.
  5. Set the cooked shrimp and pork aside to cool completely before adding them to the salad. This ensures that the heat does not wilt the fresh vegetables.

Assembling the Salad

Now that you’ve prepped all the ingredients, it’s time to assemble your Gỏi Ngó Sen. The freshness of the lotus roots and the harmony of flavors from the shrimp, pork, and vegetables will soon meld beautifully.

Mixing the Ingredients

Start by placing the sliced lotus roots in a large mixing bowl. Ensure they’ve drained well from any soaking water to avoid diluting flavors. Add the cooked, cooled shrimp and pork to the bowl. Next, incorporate the shredded carrots and fresh herbs, which add vibrant color and freshness to the dish. Lightly toss these ingredients together using your hands or salad tongs, being gentle to ensure the delicate ingredients like the herbs do not become bruised.

Adding the Dressing

To bring the salad to life, pour the dressing over the tossed ingredients. This dressing typically includes lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and minced garlic. Mix gently but thoroughly, ensuring every slice of lotus root and every piece of meat absorbs the tangy and sweet flavors of the dressing. For an extra touch of texture and nuttiness, sprinkle on some crushed peanuts and fried shallots if you desire. This final step not only enhances the taste but also gives the salad a delightful crunchy contrast.

Garnishing and Serving

Once your Gỏi Ngó Sen, or Vietnamese lotus stem salad, is well-tossed with the vibrant dressing, it’s time to add the final touches that will elevate the flavors and textures. Here’s how you can garnish and serve to impress.

Adding the Garnishes

  1. Sprinkle Crushed Peanuts: Take a handful of crushed roasted peanuts and sprinkle them evenly over the top of the salad. This not only adds a delightful crunch but also a nutty flavor that complements the tangy dressing.
  2. Scatter Fried Shallots: Add a generous amount of fried shallots. These little gems offer a crispy texture and a slightly sweet taste that contrasts beautifully with the fresh ingredients.
  3. Herb Freshness: Finely chop a small bunch of fresh cilantro and mint leaves. Scatter these herbs over the salad before serving to infuse it with a burst of freshness and to enhance the overall herbal notes of the dish.
  1. Chill Before Serving: For the best experience, let the salad chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together more fully.
  2. Presentation: Serve your Gỏi Ngó Sen on a large platter or in individual bowls. You can line the serving dish with lettuce leaves for a more appealing presentation.
  3. Pairing: This salad pairs wonderfully with other Vietnamese dishes or can be enjoyed as a light main course. It’s particularly refreshing on warm days, complementing spicy or grilled foods beautifully.

By following these simple garnishing and serving tips, you’ll not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your Gỏi Ngó Sen but also boost its flavors and textures, making your meal a memorable one.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got the scoop on making Gỏi Ngó Sen, why not give it a try for your next meal? This vibrant dish not only brings a burst of fresh flavors to your table but also invites a piece of Vietnamese culture into your home. Whether you’re serving it up at a family gathering or enjoying a quiet dinner, it’s sure to impress. Remember to chill it just right and enjoy the blend of textures and tastes that make this salad a true delight. Happy cooking!

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