Everywhere you look right now, you find asparagus recipes. I suppose, for those in more "temperate" climates- say, most of the U.S. or even England, it's asparagus season, the signal to mid-spring. It's just warm enough for the little shoots to come busting out all over, leading to the wildly short frenzy that is asparagus season. Alas, in Ontario, where our last snow was but days away (and still looms on future forecasts), asparagus season truly must wait. But that doesn't mean that we still don't find asparagus popping up on our grocery shelves, brought in from our kindly neighbors to the south. And it's hard to resist, knowing that the weather should be cooperating and that it should feel like spring, even though it doesn't.
This recipe may solve that hankering, at least for the time being. I'm not a huge fan of steamed asparagus & I'm always looking for other ways to prepare it & avoid the dreaded "woody" feel to uncooked stalks. This definitely does the trick; it's also a delightfully fast recipe, which makes it a great week night side dish. It also has spice and walnuts- more or less ticking all my favorite boxes.
Time: 15-20 minutes
1 bunch of asparagus, approximately 10-15 stalks (small-medium)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground fennel and/or fennel seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger (or ginger powder)
A hearty grinding of fresh black pepper (to taste, or approximately 1 teaspoon)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
2 small chiles, diced (such as serrano or bird's eye)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (even better if they're toasted)
1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
Cut off woodsy bottoms of asparagus, then cut into approximately 2-inch pieces.
In a large wide saucepan or skillet, add vegetable oil and heat on high. When the oil is hot, add the asparagus and season with salt. Let these fry for a minute or so, then add the ground black pepper, the spices, garlic, ginger, sugar, chiles, soy sauce, and walnuts.
Cook on high for about 2 minutes, making sure everything is coated well. Cook until the asparagus is bright and green.
Transfer the asparagus and walnuts from the pan to a serving bowl & sprinkle lightly with sesame oil. Add the cilantro for garnish.