Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Simple Spicy Asparagus in a Wok

It seems the Trout is always searching the Internet for new recipes.  This week he pulled a recipe off the New York Times which sounded really good.  Then we found perfect asparagus this week and we knew this would be on the menu.

So at this time, I also need to talk about the love/hate relationship of cilantro.  I almost find this situation amusing.  My big question is, "how can you hate the taste of cilantro?"  Here we are...the two of us.  One with Czech and Norwegian taste buds and the other with German infiltrated through every muscle.  Thinking back, we are not really sure the first time we tasted cilantro.  It had to be in the last 14 years or so since we retired and have ventured off the due course of eating into total experimentation and indulgence.  We both love cilantro!  In fact, we now grow it in our herb garden.  It is such a clean, fresh taste and goes perfectly with Thai and Oriental cooking which we do a lot of.  Soapy?  I don't think so.  In fact, each time I eat it, I try to imagine a soapy flavor and it just does not come through.

So, if you do not like cilantro, I am sorry.  You will not like this recipe.  It is absolutely necessary and makes the recipe POP with excitement.

Simple Spicy Asparagus in a Wok
  from the New York Times

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, medium or pencil-size
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 small dried red peppers  (we omitted this)
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili paste
1 teaspoon grated garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest (don't omit is great)
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
3 green onions, slivered
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Snap off ends of asparagus and then cut into 2 inch pieces

Set wok over high heat and add vegetable oil.  Add dried peppers and let sizzle and then add asparagus, tossing well to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir-fry for a minute or so, then add chili paste, garlic, ginger, orange zest and jalapeno.  Continue cooking over high heat for a minute or so, until asparagus is cooked but still firm and bright green.

Mound asparagus on a serving platter and drizzle with sesame oil.  Sprinkle cilantro, green onions and sesame seeds over top.  We served this with a grilled chicken breast that was marinated in sweet chili sauce. 


  1. Oh, I don't know how I missed the post below---love magnolia trees!!! We had them in Louisville, but they'd never survive here. In fact, there is zilch in bloom here now and it snowed huge flakes yesterday.

    Anyway, I love all the ingredients in your recipe, but that one. At a restaurant the other night, a dish came to the table and I got a whiff of the cilantro before the plate hit the table. I'm not a "picky" eater, but there's just something about cilantro. The ginger, garlic and chili paste would be great with asparagus! Have a great rest of the week, Susan!

  2. Oh, I am drooling on my keyboard!! This sounds absolutely amazing. The cilantro AND all the other goodies. =) I can faintly remember not liking cilantro the first time I tasted it... but, that has LONG gone by the way. I think it adds such a fresh taste! We love it. Thank you so much for sharing this one, Susan. And, thank The Trout for sleuthing it out! blessings ~ tanna

  3. I don't like aspargus, and never heard of cilantro...but I doubt there's anything on this planet that would enhance the taste of those green sticks. So, thanks, but I think I'll pass on this one. (: Hey, I am glad you love them though. Enjoy!

  4. Apparently the ability to like the taste of cilantro is genetic and I don't have that gene. All my children do, alas! But I'll go on roasting my my asparagus with just a bit of oil, salt and garlic. It's great!

    To me the taste of cilantro only brings up visions of soap and bugs blended together. But my kids might like this!

  5. Asparagus is one of my go-to veggies, Susan. I love finding new ways to prepare it. Lots of flavors in your dish. I must confess, I am neutral about cilantro. If you say this dish absolutely needs that touch, I'd do it. Funny how some of us absolutely dislike it.

  6. I love cilantro - and I remember the first time I tasted it, in Mexico, in a guacamole. I wanted MORE. I just happen to have asparagus and everything but the cilantro (just tossed the bunch that was in the fridge) and the jalapeno. I find that a lot of US food bloggers use jalapeno - not so much up here....but I'm going to get some and give the recipe a try.

  7. Love cilantro, asparagus coming on now in the garden, and we have all ingredients except the jalapeno_ still too early for those. ;)

    It sounds like a dish we will love. Can't wait to see you in a few months.

  8. Well, Susan, I'm with you on this one. I absolutely LOVE cilantro! It must be the half side of my Mexican genes, but it's an herb that is always on hand. I grow it myself, though it sure goes to seed fast! I'm blessed to live in fresh asparagus territory and have asparagus right here. You have so inspired me!

  9. Oh yeah...this is one of my favorite way to prepare asparagus too. Although I don't usually add chili/chili sauce in my veggies (because of my kids). But I can guess how delicious it will be with them (I love anything spicy). Hm....maybe I should make 2 batches next time. One for kids and one for me. hehehe...thanks for sharing the recipe.

  10. I just got my wok out of a back cabinet recently, so this will definitely be a recipe to try. I know we would love it Susan. Thank the Trout for his diligent research.