Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stir-Fried Asparagus

Sometimes I'm trying to think about what to make for dinner using whatever ingredients I have on hand and sometimes it results in a dish that is surprisingly delicious. That's what happened a week or two ago. I had a bunch of asparagus in the crisper drawer that was on its way to being less-than-fresh and I decided that I needed to use it up (waste not, want not). I'd already flipped the switch on the rice cooker so I couldn't just roast it or saute it, the way you might prepare asparagus to go alongside a steak. I ended up taking inspiration from Chinese food - specifically two dishes: beef with broccoli and stir fried green beans - and decided to stir fry the asparagus. Because this was such an "on a whim" dish, I didn't get a chance to photograph the process in my usual style.

Also, this dish would work with broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts, celery - there are many variations.

Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus
1 long hot pepper
1/4 red onion
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Start by breaking off the tough ends of the asparagus and then slicing it on a bias. I don't know about you, but I'd never sliced asparagus like this before. I think it looks quite pretty to see the ring of lime green surrounding an oval of paler asparagus flesh (but that's just me).
Next, take some garlic and slice it. My garlic had sprouted (which happens when the bulbs are exposed to cold). I incorporated the sprouts too, because why not? The sprouts are actually less pungent than the cloves themselves, so for garlic non-enthusiasts, they're actually a good way to impart a bit of garlic flavor in a milder, more subtle way.

Slice the long hot pepper (on a bias too).
And slice some red onion. I chose red onion just to give a bit of contrast in color but if you only have white or yellow onions on hand, those will work fine.
Last step of the preparation is to mix together the sauce. Combine the oyster sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil in a bowl and mix together. If you don't have oyster sauce, you could substitute in a bit of soy sauce but it just won't be the same. It'll probably still be yummy though.
In a skillet (or a wok, if you have one), heat up the oil and hot pepper flakes. Once the flakes start to sizzle a bit, add in the garlic and hot pepper and saute until the garlic starts to get a bit of color. Add in the onions and cook until they soften. Then, add in the asparagus and toss around to get it coated in the flavorful oil.
Next, drizzle in a tiny bit of water (1 teaspoon) just to help steam the asparagus and cook it through a bit quicker. This step is optional; if you prefer a slightly crunchier texture, you can skip the water. Once the asparagus starts to get a bit brighter in color, pour in the sauce mixture and mix to combine.
Once the sauce is evenly distributed, remove from the heat.
Serve warm with rice and other side dishes.
And if you need it, here's the recipe page:

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