From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Asparagus is still plentiful in our local farmer's markets and I wanted to share this recipe with you while it is still being harvested. This is a quick and delicious stir-fry that is flavored with dark Asian sesame oil and sliced ginger that is crushed as it is stir-fried. It is easy to make and the only thing you have to be cautious of is overcooking the asparagus. This dish comes together quickly but the length of time it actually cooks will depend on the thickness of the stalks. The times suggested in this recipe are based on medium-sized spears. If yours are thicker or thinner, you are on your own and will have to play it by ear. Asparagus cooked in this way has wonderful flavor and absolutely gorgeous color. I love this dish for its taste and visual appeal and, left to my own devices, I'll mix it with brown rice and make a meal of it. Bob prefers it as a side dish. As I was pulling the elements of this post together, I realized I had done another Asian-style recipe last year on this day. I'm sure my subconscious is toying with me. Sensible people don't stir-fry on Memorial Day, yet I did it again. I think I must be channeling a special friend.
Several years ago Bob and I traveled through Southeast Asia with some remarkable people. Many of them had military backgrounds and had served in Vietnam. The testosterone levels in the group were fairly high and there was polite jostling among the men see whose exploits and memories would carry the day. Tucked in our group was a woman, about my age, who had a passion for textiles and weaving. She was a charmer with a wicked sense of humor, but like most of us gals, she looked like a grandmother and her interests pegged her as a homebody. The way she carried herself and spoke led me to believe I had only seen one side of the coin. I could sense there was more, a whole lot more to her story, and that she was a person with a tale to tell. At any rate, we adopted each other for the duration of the trip and I picked up on the vague smile that appeared when the guys talked rank. I also had seen the distinctive silver chain she used to carry her keys. Its spread eagle insignia helped me put the pieces together, so I had a sense of who she was, though I still was not sure and did not ask. I tend not to pry and prefer to let folks tell their own stories when they are ready to unveil them. That happened as we came closer to Hanoi. She withdrew a bit and absented herself from the group when we toured the Hanoi Hilton. That evening she shared bits of her history with me. My friend had retired from the service with flag rank. She was a Bird Colonel, the first woman ever to to achieve that rank. She entered the service right out of college and because of her age and medical background, she had first hand knowledge of what happened in the Hanoi Hilton. She had absented herself from the tour because she did not want to see a sanitized version of a place she knew to be a hell hole. She spoke briefly of the death she had seen during her tours, but her focus was on the damaged minds and bodies the war had left behind. She carried the weight of those who were less honored than their fallen comrades, those who had no special day set aside for remembrance of the sacrifices they, too, had made. Since meeting her, we've expanded our Memorial Day to include them all and proudly fly the flag to salute them and, of course, her. I send my thanks today to all who serve. May God bless and keep you all.
Stir-Fried Asparagus with Ginger Coins and Sesame Oil...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Nancie McDermott
1 pound asparagus (1 bunch)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 thin, quarter-sized slices fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1) Break off and discard woody base of each stalk. Cut usable portion of each stalk into 2-inch sections, placing tips and stalk pieces in separate piles.
2) Heat a large, deep skillet or wok over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds. Add vegetables oil and turn pan to coat it evenly. Add ginger coins to pan. Salt and cook, scooping and pressing down on ginger slices to mix with oil and salt. Cook until ginger is fragrant, about 15 seconds.
3) Reserving tips, scatter stalk sections into pan and toss with ginger and oil. Cook, tossing now and then, until shiny and bright green, about 30 seconds. Add tips and toss to mix everything well.
4) Add broth to pan, pouring it in around the sides, and toss to mix well. Cook, scooping and turning now and then, until the asparagus is tender but still firm, and most of stock has cooked away, about 3 minutes.
5) Add sesame oil and toss ingredients to coat. Turn out onto a serving plate. Serve hot or warm. Yield: 4 servings.
One Year Ago Today: Asian-Style Mushroom Soup
Two years Ago Today: Blue Cheese Bread
Three Years Ago Today: Dandelion Blueberry Bars