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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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38 Comments Post a comment
  1. I don’t care for asparagus, but I would sure like this stir-fry with green beans or bok choy.

    June 13, 2012
    • I wish I’d remembered to mention it Sharyn! Green beans work beautifully prepared this way too!

      June 14, 2012
  2. I was missing your recipes and your beautiful photos!
    Glad to see you are back; the last photo is so amazing, love everyythinbg about it, the reflection, the colors, the textures; it really looks delicious!

    June 13, 2012
  3. Ali #

    A new spin on stir fry for us! We’ll be trying this soon, and often, I’m sure!

    June 13, 2012
    • I know you do wonders in your wok! Glad you like the sounds of this Ali!

      June 14, 2012
  4. So happy to see your creation! Looks delicious. Like Ali, I plan to add this to our stir fry repertoire. Love those asparagus photos. So how do you like working in the new kitchen?

    June 13, 2012
    • Working in the new kitchen is a new ball game…mostly sweet as can be…but I’m needing to take extra precautions to protect the soapstone counters…which I love the looks of, but they’re surprisingly tender. The new appliances are pretty awesome and I just may have to share a bit about induction cooking after having played with it some!

      June 14, 2012
  5. As beautiful and elegant a post as I’ve come to expect of you.

    June 13, 2012
    • You’re very kind Roger. Thank you!

      June 14, 2012
  6. I love the looks of this! And the asparagus drinking tip. What if you set the stalks in vino? 🙂

    June 13, 2012
    • Well, I don’t know about that…they could prove to be real lushes! 🙂 And in any case, the bottoms would likely get drunk while the tops stayed sober…but if you decide to “serve” them, please let me know how they handled it!

      June 14, 2012
  7. I’ve never strayed beyond lemon/butter or a vinaigrette or grilled asparagus. But I love all these flavours – how temptingly clever! I also like the marinade as we eat a fair bit of tofu here – I’m bookmarking this one Spree – YUM!

    June 13, 2012
    • So glad you like the sounds of it Claire!

      June 14, 2012
  8. I’ve had asparagus several times this spring but this looks like the most tasty version of any I’ve made–I especially like the addition of the crunch from cashews, flavor isn’t bad either. Speaking of the new kitchen, I’m hoping we might be favored with photography at some point, to replace the mental image you previously posted when in the midst of tear-down.

    June 14, 2012
    • I’ll be happy to share some images of the kitchen before long, Joe. Thanks for asking’. 🙂

      June 15, 2012
  9. musingmar #

    A pretty stir fry, and tasty too!

    June 14, 2012
  10. Delicious! Loved it 🙂

    June 14, 2012
  11. One of my favorite things at the market is the mushrooms and where you are I bet they’re so much better. I love this dish.

    June 14, 2012
    • I don’t think I’d ever made that connection, but you’re Right! Taller firs, plumper ‘shrooms! We’ve got good wet here! 🙂

      June 15, 2012
  12. Great recipe, Spree. So many great, fresh ingredients and the result is a fantastic looking dish.. Your comment about the rhythm of cooking a stir-fry is so true. Once you get everything prepped and chopped, the rest is all a matter of timing. I don’t make them nearly enough and for no particular reason. I need to change that. This stir-fry looks too good to pass up!

    June 14, 2012
    • Stir fries for me are a bit of a “go-to”…when I’m at a loss for what to fix for dinner, something for the wok can almost always be found. I’m coming to see too that using my knife on the cutting board is a bit of meditative therapy for me too…you know? I’d love to know what JOHN’s kitchen therapies are and I KNOW I’d love to be served up some of your go-to dishes! I’ll be making your pasta Sunday. 🙂

      June 15, 2012
  13. Val #

    I spotted a pack of noodles at the back of the cupboard the other day and now I know what to have with them. The final photo is lovely… you had me at the cashews in that one!

    June 14, 2012
    • Yeah, I’m a sucker for cashews too Val!

      June 15, 2012
  14. I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

    June 14, 2012
  15. jim callas #

    Sounds and looks delicious!

    June 14, 2012
    • Thinkin’ it’s your kind of dish Jim! 🙂

      June 15, 2012
  16. What a very beautiful sounding and looking dish – and so many of my favourites in there!

    June 14, 2012
    • Thanks Tanya! Mine too. You get asparagus up on the mountain?

      June 15, 2012
      • Yes – both the wil suff (which is more bitter) and the regular…love it!

        June 15, 2012
  17. Great photos that make you drool and a lovely vegetarian dish. I could make a meal out of this all by itself.

    June 15, 2012
    • We love dishes like this over healthful soba noodles. Good clean vegetarian fare! 🙂 Thanks Bam!

      June 15, 2012
  18. I missed your beautiful pictures Ani 🙂
    We don’t get asparagus often here and when we do it is very very expensive but your recipes is tempting me to go get some

    June 16, 2012
  19. LOVE new ways to make asparagus!

    June 16, 2012
  20. Your asparagus sounds quite delicious. I roast it with sesame oil and sesame seeds but your stir fry is so different.

    June 16, 2012

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