Friday, 4 May 2012

Cashew Asparagus


I get all sorts of questions at the farmer's market, but this has been pretty much THE only question I've been asked the past three weeks: When's the asparagus man coming?? Yes, with a double question mark, that's the only way to express in writing, that look of anxiousness on their faces. I've never seen this country so excited over something, let alone a vegetable. People seem more interested in the start of the asparagus season than the Olympics, in fact, most seem to be a bit grumpy about the latter.

I love those sweet slender stalks too, but I love so many other vegetables I find it hard to muster that sort of obsessive delight over asparagus. I don't practice favouritism, and to me the tender stems of, say, the purple sprouting broccoli, are just as delicious (and not as expensive). People get a bit mad and sacrilegious over asparagus; I kind of just tossed them in a stirfry. I was doing a sort-of chinese cashew chicken, and just used the same sauce with asparagus; funnily (and not very often with my friends) the vegetable went before the meat-version.


CASHEW ASPARAGUS
serves 2-3 as a side 
Ingredients
1 bunch of asparagus
handful of cashew nuts
1" ginger, minced
1 tsp oyster sauce (traditionally fermented with real oyster extract instead of oyster flavouring)
1 tsp good soy sauce (traditionally fermented without preservatives)
1 tsp cornflour+ 1 tsp water to make a slurry


Method
1. Trim asparagus by snapping off the tough ends. They're expensive, so for goodness sake please don't throw, save for soup. Chop into (shuhan's) index-finger lengths. The early asparagus are tender and don't need to be blanched first.
2. Heat wok or pan over medium heat and dry-toast the cashews, stirring often till they're golden-brown and release their nutty aroma. Set aside.
3. Increase heat, add the oil, and when the oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic, stir-frying for about 5 seconds till aromatic. Add the asparagus, stir-fry for 1-2 min, or till almost tender and still bright green. 
4. Pour in the sauce ingredients i.e. everything else, and cook until sauce thickens. Return the cashews to the pan, give a final toss to coat, and serve immediately with rice. 


The star of the show here is most definitely the asparagus, but the nutty fragrance of the crunchy toasted cashews are perhaps just as yummy with the savoury sticky sauce to bind them all together. Anyway, the coveted spears of spring have come a bit later this year because of the weather, but I'm happy to say, if not apparent yet, they are finally here. 

39 comments:

  1. It's good to be excited over asparagus.
    Don't it reminds you of the durian season?

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    1. Haha wendy, I'm one of those weird people who hate durians. My mum says I'm not Singaporean o.0

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  2. I love asparagus this looks a lovely combination.

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  3. Yum! Two of my favorites in one dish, sounds great to me! Now you make me excited over asparagus! LOL Will surely this as soon as I buy ran into them! hehehe Have a nice weekend , Shu Han! HUGS! :)

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    1. I mean try this ASAP! LOL Went 2 fast there! heheheh

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  4. Oh no, I totally GET IT! It's because they're SO perfect for such a short season (and so less-than-average for the rest of the year). I wish I had the space (and the patience) for an asparagus patch.

    And, whaaaaat? You hate durian?... You're only the second Singaporean I ever met who admitted that! (not that we've met but, y'know)

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    1. purple sprouting broccoli is also only here for such a short season, and their stems (ok don't kill me) are quite similar to asparagus.

      heh. my younger sister hates it too. the rest of my family is crazy about it. my mum would buy loads when it's durian season and for a while my house will smell of durian, much to our despair. It might be due to that one time I kicked a durian shell when I was 7. but I'm not being unfairly biased, I really don't like its taste..

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  5. This is new to me, asparagus + cashewnuts, I bet it's delicious!

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  6. Yes, when is the asparagus coming? I wonder if the rain is slowing the season-proper? Love this idea, never paired it with cashews before.

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    1. Hah, thanks for proving my point about the British asparagus obsession.
      Apparently so, according to the asparagus man. They're just not sprouting because of the rain. But anyway, it is here this week!

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  7. Oh love cashews in a stir fry. Can't say as I've had asparagus in one before, but why not. It sounds absolutely delicious. Haven't had any asparagus yet this year.

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  8. debby: oh thank you!!

    kit: haha I'm not as thrilled as most people are about asparagus in fact!

    yummylittlecooks: I like the combination of tender and crunchy(:

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  9. Hahahaha, that's too funny! We've been eating asparagus here for weeks - I think the season might be longer in Ottawa, Canada? We just sautee them with some olive oil and black pepper. But this stir fry looks delish, and I think the combination of greens and cashews would be exotic :) Have a great weekend xo

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    1. haha not even funny when you see the murderous looks they give me when i say i don't get it. I think you just have an earlier season, probably because of better weather :/

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  10. Hi Shu Han! :D

    I miss aspargus too and I can see that everyone online is enjoying them! wish I could get some now, most of my favourite dishes out there are with aspargus. Your cashew aspargus recipe is going to be incl in that group, awesome flavoure combi!

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    1. helene: oh dear, I forget that in some countries, it's not even possible to get asparagus! on the other hand, you have such a wider variety of exotic interesting foods in goa!

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  11. I am one of those that goes maaaad for asparagus. I love them! My favourite is to just simply griddled them and eat them with a touch of melted butter.

    This recipe with the contrasting cashew nuts and sweet oyster sauce, sounds like a delicious stir fry combination...must try soon :)

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    1. I think many people only eat them that way, because they're too perfect to mess with (: I like them like that too! I like a lot of veggies like that. Butter makes everything better haha.

      great, I hope you give it a go!

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  12. I love asparagus--one of the best vegetables ever! That combination with cashews sounds perfect. :)

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  13. I'm afraid I too obsess about asparagus. Such a short season and so perfect. Also they've always been seen as a luxury dish here in the uk. Probably something to do with the war. I love tender stem broc too so what do I know? I live the pairing here with cashews! I made your stir fry the other day. It was delightful but didn't photograph well so I have nothing to show you. I picked a whole bunch of wild garlic yesterday which is very exciting! Living further north everything is slightly later to grow so it's still in good condition! I live your illustrations too. The blog is looking fab!!

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    1. Like everybody else (:

      the war?? Ok I have to do a bit of research.

      thanks dom! I'm glad it turned out well! I know you complain that you get everything later, but I find it kind of a good thing too, because then you get to try out so many ideas that othe rpeople have been sharing (:

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  14. This sounds amazing - such a simple but delicious sounding recipe!

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  15. I love cashew nuts! (Not to mention asparagus to which I'm addicted for the short period when it's in season). Whenever I stir-fry them with chicken and vegetables I always wonder what I prefer in the dish: the grilled cashew nuts or the rest. I have never thought of making only asparagus and cashew nuts together. It sounds like an excellent idea! Thank you for the inspiration! (And as previously, I love the illustrations! So cute and creative!)

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    1. Thanks Sissi! Yes,indeed everyone seems to go more than just a bit mad for them when they come into season! I get what you mean baout the cashew nuts, they just smell divine roasted and I love their nutty crunch, it's pretty addictive.

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  16. Hi Shuhan, we've had asparagus here for a few weeks already - it was really lovely to see it in the stores again after so long, but with the batch of green asparagus, it also means that the disgusting white asparagus is here now too, and will soon eclipse the green stalks at the market and take their place. Have you had it? It's vile - it's thick - about 3cm in diameter sometimes, tough - you HAVE to peel it before eating it, and bitter, and yet the French people LOVE it... what the hell?

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    1. I've seen the white asparagus only at certain high-end grocery stores, or in certain markets like portobello where they bring in a lot of fancier exotic veegtables. It's a lot pricier than normal asparagus (as if asparagus isn't already expensive enough) so I've never tried it, and I'm surprised to hear you say it's vile. tough AND bitter? Boo, the french are even weirder than the english when it comes to asparagus!

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  17. This is just what I need! We've been making a lot of stir-fries lately, and I've been looking for some good vegetarian ones. This has all the flavor and protein from the cashews and freshness and crunchiness from the asparagus. Thank you!!

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    1. thanks kat! If you want it fully vegetarian, you may try using more soy sauce and perhaps a touch of molasses for the sweetness instead of the oyster sauce (:

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  18. Ooh! What am amazing side dish! It would be perfect with fish, I think! I absolutely adore cashew nuts!

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  19. You are so creative with your writing and drawing...and not forgetting your cooking too! Love your Asian style asparagus. Yum!

    PS. I didn't think of Lana's cake until you mentioned it. Lana's chocolate cake is always my fav during my growing-up days. I missed Singapore food...

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    1. haha so you grew up with lana chocolate cake too! my mum had a craze for it back then, we had it everyday for breakfast, not kidding, for a week. and then we all got really sick of it. good way to get kids to end up pushign away choc cake haha!

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  20. ooh I love asparagus and made it recently with roasted almonds! so interesting to see it with Cashews. Must have been delicious

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  21. Oooooh what a simple yet delicious recipe. Right down my alley! I love asparagus too but was looking for new ways to cook em too. Just been making them the same way too often haha. You're such a good source of ideas and cooking inspirations! Good luck with everything on your end, don't stretch yourself too thin kay ;)

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    1. thanks winston, and esp thanks for the well wishes. I just need to pull through this stretch, urgh, looking forward to bumming around in summer already. 2 more months >< you too, take care!

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  22. Simple but delicious! Thanks for this one Shu Han!

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  23. For me, I would like to add some dried chili, little spicy just nice for me. Like to see your drawing ^_^.

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  24. I do love my asparagus I suppose because the season is so short lived and you really are ready to eat them by this time of the year. The idea of pairing them with cashews is really good indeed! x

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  25. I love your pictures and your digital drawings. You are one creative lady – in the kitchen and on the computer, alike x

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  26. What a delicious and simple little side dish! I've never combined asparagus with cashews, but it sounds like a very tasty combination. Very creative!

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