Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Everywhere you look at the moment there are food items headed 'What to do with asparagus' and I'm not sure why. The obvious thing to do with asparagus is eat it as fast as possible with as litttle adornment as possible because it is truly one of the worlds great vegetables. In fact at this time of year in England it is THE greatest vegetable. The brevity of its appearance adds to its desirability - that 6 week window is over all too soon. We've eaten it each weekend for the last few weeks simply steamed for 6-7 minutes with a little grinding of black pepper and a knob of butter. It's nice with the addition of an egg - poached or fried - some crusty bread to mop up any juices perhaps.

For such a delicate vegetable it really is quite robust. The best way to eat only the tender part of the stalks is to break each stalk where it snaps - the top piece should be cooked and enjoyed immediately.

This week as a little change I made a stir fry. We had some rare grilled rump left over from dinner Saturday, so the slight edge of charring on the meat and the delicate crispness of the asparagus mixed through soft noodles made for a heavenly marriage. This could easily be made with chok boy at other times of the year.

Stir fry beef and asparagus

250g/1/2lb rump steak, thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 3cm/1" pieces, tips kept separate
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
500g/1lb fresh egg noodles
2 tbspns light soy sauce
1 tbspn oyster sauce
1 tbspn vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped coriander
2 spring onions, finely sliced

Heat the oil in a wok and, when it is very hot, add the chilli, garlic and ginger and stir fry briefly till fragrant. Add the asparagus stalks, toss to coat in the spicy oil then add the soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of water, lower the heat, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Raise the heat again and add the meat, stir briefly then add the noodles and toss together for a minute or so.

Add the tips of the asparagus and the oyster sauce and stir through till everything is hot. Add the coriander and spring onions, mix thoroughly and serve immediately in big bowls.

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