gingered stir-fry of asparagus, shitake & cashews
It’s Wegetable Vednesday!
At the market today under gray and threatening skies, locally-grown asparagus, crisp and tall, vaulted into my basket. I’d already shared one of my favorite preparations for asparagus (lemon-marinated then simply grilled and sprinkled with coarse sea salt) but to my mind there’s another that rivals it: stir-fried with a little sweet and a little heat, earthy mushrooms, and scattered with lightly salted roasted cashews. Truly nummy. (This could easily be a side dish, as it is. I added to ours tofu – or you could substitute finely sliced chicken breast or prawns- and serve atop soba noodles or rice.)
To utilize more of the asparagus stalk, did you know that you can cut off the bottom bit, stand stalks up in a container of water where they’ll drink up ’til they’re no longer thirsty? It’s true. So let them drink while you begin to prepare the other ingredients. (Pour yourself a little too if you like.)
I love the sweet rhythms of stir-frying. Though simple and easy, keeping it fun & utterly stress-free is helped along by some good organization. I measure out, wash and chop everything ahead of time. A stack of ramekins or cups and little saucers come in handy. Everything is ready before my wok is hot.
Gingered Stir-Fry of Asparagus, Shitakes & Cashews
- 1 bundle asparagus
- 1 bunch green onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups shitake mushrooms
- ginger root (the width of a thick thumb x 1 or 2 inches, depending on your love of ginger) cut into matchsticks (or chopped if you prefer)
- 1 cup roasted, lightly salted cashews
For sautéing and saucing -
- sesame oil (or another oil with a relatively high-smoke point such as grape seed or peanut oil)
- ¾ cup chicken stock (or vegetable)
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot (I prefer arrowroot because it dissolves easily & adds glossiness to the sauce)
- Tamari or Soy sauce (1 Tbl. to start)
- 1 brimming teaspoon honey
- sriracha hot chili sauce – optional
- sesame seeds to garnish – optional
Brush the mushroom caps with a dry soft brush to remove any dirt. Remove the woody stems, then slice caps in approximately ¼-inch slices.
Ginger root – peel with the edge of a spoon then cut into slices, then slices into thin match sticks. If you prefer, you could mince instead.
Garlic - mince.
Green onion – wash and remove nearly all the green, then slice on the diagonal in approximately ¼-inch slices.
Asparagus – cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces, slicing on the diagonal.
If using tofu, dry with paper towels and cut into good bite-size pieces. Marinate in a mixture of cooking sherry and tamari or soy sauce for about 20 to 30 minutes.
The sauce – In a small bowl combine chicken stock (or vegetable stock), arrowroot or cornstarch and honey. Add 1 Tablespoon tamari or soy sauce, but feel free to add more later to taste. (Also, if you know everyone likes the heat, add a bit of Sriracha or other hot chili sauce now.)
You’re ready to go!
The rest will only take about 12 minutes…
(a bit longer if you’re frying up a protein)
(If using tofu, remove from marinade and dry lightly with paper towels.) Heat the wok over medium high heat. Add enough sesame oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and allow it to come to a “shimmer” but not a smoke.
You’re now going to infuse the oil with lovely ginger and garlic perfumes by cooking them briefly in the oil. Drop the ginger into the wok and stir continually as ginger begins to turn a soft golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for only about 30 seconds then quickly remove ginger and garlic to a plate and reserve.
Carefully brown the tofu (or other protein) on both sides in the oil, adding more oil around the edges of the wok if necessary. Remove tofu to paper towels.
Add asparagus to the hot wok and stir continuously for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, maintaining that constant stir. About 3 minutes. Slowly begin to pour the sauce around the sides of the wok, a little at a time. Continue stirring. As each addition of sauce thickens, add a bit more. When you’re down to just a little sauce remaining, toss in the green onions along with the pre-cooked protein of your choice, and the ginger and garlic. Toss in the cashews at the very end as you remove the wok from the heat.
Scatter with sesame seeds if you like & pass the sriracha hot chili sauce if the mouths you’re feeding are up to it.
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