California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is one of the three primary asparagus growing areas in the state. When Delta asparagus starts to show up in the grocery stores, it’s a sure sign the spring has arrived as the harvest there starts in early March. Hurry! Get your asparagus while you can as the season lasts just a few weeks.
Stir-fry dishes cook up fast. Have your ingredients in place before cooking. If serving with rice or noodles, have those accompaniments ready to go, also.
Choose medium size asparagus. If desired, bend the stalk a couple of inches from the bottom end to snap off the woody part and discard.
Cut the asparagus about 1 1/2" long on the diagonal rotating a quarter turn after each cut.
Spicy Asparagus and Chicken Stir-Fry
10-12 oz. chicken (pork or beef may also be used), about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups
1 Tbls. soy sauce
2 tsp. Xaoxing rice wine or dry cooking sherry
1-2 tsp. cornstarch
12 oz. asparagus (medium diameter), a round bunch about 3” in diameter
½ red bell pepper (small)
2 tsp. fresh ginger
¼ tsp. dried chili flakes
1 ½ Tbls. oyster sauce
2 tsp. sweet chili sauce
2 green onions
1 tsp. sesame seed oil
Water or chicken broth
Water or chicken broth
Vegetable or peanut oil
Cut meat into small pieces about the size of a thumbnail. Put into a medium-size bowl. Mix in meat marinade ingredients and set aside, stirring occasionally.
Cut or snap off the bottom 1 – 1 ½” from each asparagus spear. Slice on the diagonal into 2” lengths, making a quarter turn after each slice. Slice the bell pepper in half; remove seeds and ribs. Slice one half of bell pepper lengthwise into long slivers; reserve other half of bell pepper for another use. Slice off 2-3 thin coins off a knob of ginger and mince. Cut green onions thinly on the diagonal.
In a large skillet or wok, heat 2-3 teaspoons oil on high heat until shimmering. Add asparagus and ginger and toss to evenly cook for 45-60 seconds. Splash in 1-2 Tbls. water or chicken broth, cover with a lid and let cook for about 15 seconds. Uncover, toss asparagus, and again splash with 1-2 Tbls. water or chicken broth, cover and cook for another 15 seconds. Toss again and if asparagus is not crisp tender, repeat with more water or chicken broth. When asparagus is crisp tender, remove to a plate.
Place skillet or wok back on the heat and add 1-2 teaspoons oil. When oil is shimmering, add marinated meat, separating pieces to cook evenly. With chili flakes in the palm of one hand, crush the flakes with the heal of the other hand and toss into the cooking meat. When the underside of the meat is brown, about 45 seconds, toss to cook other sides. When meat is almost done, return asparagus to pan, toss well. Add oyster sauce, sweet chili sauce, half of the green onions, and sesame seed oil.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate up and garnish with remaining sliced green onions. Serve with rice or noodles.
Makes 4 servings.