Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Asparagus surprise

I have a newfound love of asparagus, fostered by the lovely buffet menu at the Hilton in Gurgaon. They have a truly amazing salad spread and superb asparagus is almost always featured. I like to have it with a thai chilli sauce dressing and shavings of parmesan - the combination of flavours and textures is to die for.

Recently I found that the Spencer's hypermarket stocks asparagus and that has become my weekly indulgence. I had bought asparagus from the Malviya Nagar subzi mandi earlier but never quite known what to do with it since I don't like Hollandaise and feel that asparagus soup doesn't bring out the delicate flavour of the vegetable.

Last week when I bought over a pound of fresh asparagus, I was once again at a loss for what to do and decided to consult one of my favourite cookbooks - World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey. Her descriptions of the settings and the recipes are glorious and guaranteed to immediately motivate you to start cooking. I tried out one of her recipes for asparagus, with some of my tweaks, and lo and behold - it's become a household favourite, not just for me, but my husband and 4 year old son. It's simple, fast and delicious:

Asparagus with soy dressing:

1 or 2 pounds Asparagus
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
1-2 green chillies (depending on your palate and the fieriness of the chillies)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons water
1 tsp soy sauce
Juice of half lemon
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
handful of pine nuts or small skinned almonds (you can substitute with hazelnuts or macadamia if you like)

  1. Chop off the woody stems and cut the asparagus into thirds. Soak in water for 15 mts or so while you're preparing the other ingredients.
  2. Pour in a glug of olive oil (I use plain olive oil for cooking and extra virgin for salads, but please yourself) into a wok and heat on a medium flame. Put in the nuts and stir for a couple of minutes till they get somewhat browned and crisp. Take the nuts out and spread on a napkin to cool.
  3. Now add the onion, garlic and chillies to the oil and cook for a minute or two.
  4. Then drain the asparagus well and add to the wok and stir till all the vegetables are well mixed.
  5. Add the water (use your judgement about the amount of water needed), salt and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cover the wok at this point and let cook for a few minutes until the asparagus is tender.
  6. Uncover the wok, add the soy sauce and lemon juice and mix well. Let most of the water boil away and then add the sesame oil.
  7. Check the seasoning to make sure the flavours are balanced - hot, sweet, salty.
  8. Mix in the roasted nuts and serve immediately. If you feel like it, you could also add some roasted sesame seeds just before bringing it to the table.

1 comment:

Shella said...

Once again, thank you. I have been eyeing the asparagus at various subzi markets - even my weekly local mandi is stocking on them, n never brought them, not knowing what to do. But your recipe sounds good, n am so going to grab a bunch right away.