Spring is here! Well there's the light snow tapering off ever so slowly still, and yea it doesn't exactly feel like spring just yet, but the fresh asparagus is making an appearance in the grocery stores' produce isles everywhere. And that's one sure sign of spring!
A simple post featuring just that, this makes a pretty spring dish showcasing the beauty of the asparagus paired with the plain elegance of the shrimps. Pretty much the replica to the version commonly seen and served in those Chinese restaurants back in Malaysia. A serving of any greens with the asparagus being the leading role is never exactly cheap. Well in fact, asparagus has never one of the really economical ones among all the other available greens in Malaysia. But there's just something about them that keeps the demand going and people coming back for it - the unique sweetness, succulence and tenderness all within the same bunch of spears, I would think.
As with many other stir fried vegetable dishes, this dish comes packed with minced garlic, loads of it in fact! Done in a wok over a very high heat, cooking it right is about retaining the mild, tender and slightly nutty-tasting of the asparagus, just perfect for serving. And having sweet and bouncy shrimps in the picture - they complement the delicate natural flavor of the vibrant green spears without overpowering them.
Plump or slim and skinny - I personally don't quite think that one is exactly better than the other. It is commonly said that the larger the diameter, the better is the quality. While larger does usually correlate with succulency, sadly I have also had too many large ones with relatively tougher skins. Of course thick never equals tough and old; it could be all just a matter of freshness (which explains why locally grown ones always win hands down!). But take none of these comments - give them both a try and you be the judge for yourself!
Taste is after all so very subjective...
My key to some good spears? They snap well (well, just please don't go snapping each and everyone of them now lol), they LOOK fresh (duh! myself), feels firm to touch and they have nice, tight, neat and compactly closed heads.
And now into the making of the delicious treat...
Stir Fried Asparagus with Shrimps 芦笋炒虾球
1lb asparagus, rinsed
16 shrimps (~10oz in weight), shelled (leaving the tails on), deveined
5 cloves garlic, minced
a pinch or two of salt
3 tbsps cooking oil
a dash of white pepper powder
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar
Sauce (mix together in a small bowl)
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp water
1. Marinate the shrimps with the marinade slightly in advance. Have it refrigerated until cooking time.
2. Trim the asparagus by snapping off the hard ends of the bottom of the stalks. Cut them at an angle into sections of about 2" in lengths. Set aside.
3. Heat up the wok with about a tbsp of the cooking oil over high. Add in the shrimps, spreading them out in a single layer. Let fry for a few seconds before flipping them over. Cook until the shrimps change color. Dish out and set aside.
4. Bring the wok to heat over high once again with the remaining oil. Add in the minced garlic. Stir fry until aromatic and slightly browned. Bring in the asparagus next with a pinch or two of salt. Sprinkle in some water. Cook until tender-crisp, stirring and tossing frequently, about 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Bring the shrimps back into the wok. Stir in the sauce and mix to get everything well incorporated.
6. Dish out and serve hot.