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Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add the asparagus and blanch for 2 minutes. Immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process.
Put the oil in a wok or large skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Add the minced spices and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.
Stir in the ketchup, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and water. Add the shrimp and asparagus; coat with sauce. Cook until the sauce is bubbling and the shrimp turns pink about 5 minutes.
Spring vegetables are here!
While asparagus are available all year, I love it when the Farmer’s Markets and stores start filling up with fresh, local artichokes, peas and asparagus. This super-quick, super easy, tasty and low-fat stir-fry of Chili Shrimp with Asparagus is perfect for a quick weeknight meal.
A great low-fat dinner using fresh spring produce
When choosing asparagus, I find that the thicker spears tend to be sweeter and more tender, the thinner ones can get woody very quickly, although early in the season being thin is only an indicator of how young the asparagus plant is. Overall, the size doesn’t really make that much of a difference; we will be getting rid of the woody part anyway (it’s great for composting, so if you haven’t already, consider starting a compost pile). Whether you get thin or thick stalks, always look for freshness. You don’t want them to look wilted or dried out. The tips should be firmly closed, some varieties have a purplish tint, this is normal. Yellow is not, so don’t buy anything that is turning yellow. Fresh vibrant green is what you are going for; with the cut end not looking overly dry.
Once you are ready to prepare your asparagus, rinse the stalks under cold running water to get rid of any grit that might be clinging in the tip (don’t soak, just rinse) then shake the water off. Holding the asparagus just below the tip with one hand and at the tip of the cut end with the other, gently bend the asparagus until it breaks. This shows where the tender and woody parts separate. Do a few this way and then feel free to cut the rest, neatly, to the same size.
If you have large stalks and you want them to look “pretty” use a vegetable peeler and peel the bottom of the stalks.
I also like to blanch my asparagus before cooking with them to help them retain their vibrant color.
To do this bring a skillet large enough to hold the asparagus laying down, and fill with about 1 inch of lightly salted water. When it comes to a simmer, add the asparagus and cook for 1 – 2 minutes; remove the asparagus to an ice bath (a bowl or pan filled with about 2 inches of iced water); then remove them once they’ve cooled to some paper towels to drain. Now they won’t turn Army green but will stay emerald green. Much prettier.
Asparagus are best when cooked as soon as you get them; the sugars convert quickly, but if you have to store them do not rinse them first. Take the asparagus stalks, cut about 1/2 inch of the bottom off, then stick them, standing upright, into a container of water. Cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate. Good to go for a few days at least. But don’t wait too long or you will end up with a slimy bunch of yuckiness.
Asparagus soup anyone?
Serve Chili Shrimp with Asparagus over steamed rice, preferably Jasmine.
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