Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Stir-fry/Steamed Asparagus

Two weeks ago at the market, I bought some asparagus, and was told that it was the last harvest of the season. I wasn't surprised, as it wasn't the best-looking asparagus ever (a bit thick), and was also the only bunch I saw in the entire market. Well, that was apparently false, as this past week there was asparagus everywhere. At least five farmers were selling it, and it was all the beautiful thin kind. So I bought some. Last week I sauteed mine with ginger and new potatoes and it was delicious, so I decided to try a variant on that today.

I don't know if "stir-fry/steaming" is a real technique of any sort, but that's my name for what you do when you first stir-fry a vegetable, then add a small amount of liquid and cover the pot to let it fully cook by steaming. I debated just using water, but I wanted to infuse the asparagus with some flavor, so I added just a bit of soy sauce and vinegar.

1 small bunch thin asparagus (twelve to fifteen stalks)
1 small piece ginger, minced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
Light soy sauce
Rice vinegar

Heat about one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pot until shimmering, and add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for about thirty seconds, and add the asparagus. Stir-fry for another minute or two, then add about a tablespoon of soy sauce, a dash of rice vinegar, and just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot evenly. Cover the pot, turn the heat to medium-low, and steam for three or four minutes - this happens pretty fast. When the asparagus is as tender as you like it, uncover the pot, turn the heat back to high, and cook until the water boils off. Serve with rice!

Speaking of rice, I bought some new rice at the Chinatown market. It's a short-grain black rice called Gao Den, so my guess is it's Vietnamese. I tried making a batch today - I had no idea what proportions to use, so I tried six ounces of rice and ten ounces of water. That was a little too much water, since it was done in 25 minutes and there was still water in the bottom. I'll try nine ounces of water next time. The rice turns the cooking water an amazing dark purple, and the rice is delicious - not sticky as I thought it might be, but slightly nutty and flavorful.

No pictures of either yet, but some may be forthcoming if I can persuade myself to take them before I devour everything. :)

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