Not all asparagus dishes are delicate and subtle. Try this stir-fry to see how well the sweetness of asparagus and spicy bold flavors go together.
· 1 ½ pounds asparagus, pencil-size or medium
· 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
· ½ teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns, or use black peppercorns
· ¼ teaspoon five-spice powder
· 1 teaspoon grated garlic
· 2 teaspoons grated ginger
· 1 tablespoon palm sugar or dark brown sugar
· 1 to 2 bird’s-eye chiles, thinly sliced, or use serrano or Fresno chiles
· 2 teaspoons soy sauce
· ½ cup toasted walnut halves
· 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
· 3 green onions, slivered
· Cilantro sprigs, for garnish
1. Snap off and discard bottoms of asparagus, then cut into 2-inch pieces. (Halve thicker pieces lengthwise first.)
2. Set a wok over high heat and add vegetable oil. When oil is hot, add asparagus and season lightly with salt. Stir-fry for a minute or so, then add Sichuan pepper, five-spice powder, garlic, ginger, sugar, chiles, soy sauce and walnuts. Continue cooking over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing to coat well, until asparagus is cooked but still firm and bright green. (It will continue to cook a bit off the heat.)
3. Transfer asparagus to a serving platter and drizzle with sesame oil. Sprinkle green onions over the top and garnish with cilantro sprigs.
To make your own five-spice powder, combine ground Sichuan pepper, fennel, clove, star anise and cinnamon in equal parts.