Saturday, November 19, 2011

Asparagus with Soy Paste & Bonito Shavings

This recipe was adapted from Jade & Muriel Chen's cookbook Blue eye dragon Taiwanese Cooking. It's phenomenally easy to make and, IMHO, best served as a cold appetizer. The original recipe uses soy paste, but oyster sauce would be a great substitute. The following sauce I make for Chinese broccoli (Gai lan) might also work well, since the textures of both veggies are very similar:

6 tbsp. water
6 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. sesame oil

Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan (reserve 1 tbsp to mix with 1 tsp of cornstarch for a slurry), bring to a boil, add cornstarch slurry and cook for a few minutes until thickened.

And here's the original recipe:

2 lbs. asparagus, washed & trimmed (snap off the woody ends)
1 tsp. salt
Soy sauce paste or oyster sauce (or the above sauce recipe)
1 cup of bonito (wood fish) shavings
1-2 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tsp. of salt and the asparagus and blanch 1 minute. Remove the asparagus to a colander to drain, then place on a chopping board, trim the ends and cut the spears in half. 

2. If you like this dish served on the cool side (which I do), let the asparagus cool to room temp or refrigerate before adding the other ingredients. Otherwise, just arrange the asparagus on a serving platter, top with 1 cup of bonito shavings, then drizzle on the soy paste, straight oyster sauce, or the embellished oyster sauce (as per above recipe). For extra flair, sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds on top. 

Trim & rinse the asparagus.

Bonito shavings and soy paste.

Blanch the asparagus in boiling water with 1 tsp. of salt for 1 minute.

Drain the asparagus.

Trim the ends and cut asparagus spears in half.

Arrange asparagus on a platter, top with bonito shavings, and drizzle with soy paste (or oyster sauce of choice). 

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