Most people who love asparagus don’t care much for it from the can or frozen. It’s just nothing like the crisp, barely-cooked freshly-sprouted-from-spring-soil version.
And, that means there’s only a window of a few weeks in spring when you can really enjoy fresh B.C. asparagus, at its best.
I don’t know about your kitchen, but mine goes through a wide variety of asparagus experiences at this time of year as we enjoy it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We unearth all our favourite recipes for this delicate sprout and have them all in these few weeks when local asparagus is ready and available.
Coincidentally, it overlaps with the short season of another favourite food of mine: fresh, B.C. Spot Prawns, which are only harvested in May and June off the coast of this province.
Luckily, they can be frozen and enjoyed later in the year, with much better results than asparagus, but they’re still much nicer when they’re fresh from the sea.
And, shrimp and asparagus are quite delicious together, especially stir-fried.
Both are also good in Indian-inspired dishes, and my favourite local Indian restaurant, Poppadoms, is ramping up their selection of Indian-inspired cocktails, with the launch of a second instalment later this week.
Bartender and owner Harry Dosanj presents 10 new offerings that fuse Indian flavours with local fruits, herbs and spirits such as the Chai-tini, the Mangalore, Temple of Doom, Bollywood Smash and Tamarind Margarita.
Enjoy some of the best East Indian food you’ve ever eaten as well. Poppadoms is on Highway 97 at McCurdy Road. Go to: www.poppadoms.ca for more details.
And, for more recipes like the following, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is available wherever books are sold, as well as at local wine stores such as the VQA shop in the Kelowna Wine Museum on Ellis Street.
Steam a half- pound to a pound (220 g to 454 g) of trimmed asparagus for five or six minutes or so, or until just tender. Drain well and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
My colleague, wine expert John Schreiner, recommends a riesling icewine with this dish.
You could even poach a few B.C. Spot Prawns to serve alongside…
1/2 c. (125 ml) nuts
1 tbsp. (15 ml) sesame oil
1/4 c. (60 ml) cider vinegar
1/4 c. (60 ml) soy sauce
1/3 c. (75 ml) sugar
freshly-ground black pepper
roasted sesame seeds
Chop walnuts, pecans, or other nuts finely. Mix together with remaining ingredients and pour over chopped asparagus. Add a sprinkle of freshly-ground black pepper.
Serve immediately or marinate for two or three hours before serving slightly chilled, garnished with toasted sesame seeds.
Do not marinate overnight.
This can be served with toothpicks or little spoons as an appetizer, or at the table.
Sesame Shrimp & Asparagus
Fresh B.C. Spot Prawns should begin to be available for their short season at the beginning of May, for just a few weeks. This is slightly amended from the one in my book, where renowned wine expert John Schreiner added margin notes recommending local wines with many of my recipes. He suggested pairing this dish with the Intrigue Wines Riesling, or Tantalus or Quails’ Gate.
Pork or scallops would also be delicious in this dish, instead of the shrimp or prawns.
2 tsp. (10 ml) minced ginger
1 small onion
1 small zucchini
1 celery stalk
1 bunch Shanghai bok choy
1/2 lb. (227 g) asparagus
1/2 sweet red pepper
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
1/4 c. (60 ml) water
1/2 lb. (227 g) large shrimp
1 tbsp. (15 ml) minced ginger
2 tsp.(10 ml) dried, fermented black beans
1 tbsp. (15 ml) light soy sauce
1/2 c. (125 ml) water
1 tbsp. (15 ml) cornstarch
1 tbsp. (15 ml) cold water
toasted sesame seeds
Halve the onion and slice it into strips, then chop the other vegetables into bite-sized pieces, or a bit smaller. Shell prawns, if necessary and mince ginger.
Drizzle a little oil into a hot wok and swirl it around. Then add the ginger and onions and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the other vegetables, one at a time, stir frying for a minute or so with each addition.
Drizzle with soy and add a little water and steam for a minute or two. Remove to a bowl or the serving dish. Drizzle a little more oil into the wok and add the ginger and prawns. Let them cook for a minute, then turn them over for a minute more. Add black beans and stir-fry, then add light soy sauce and water and mix in.
Combine cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl and add to the liquid in the bottom of the wok, stirring until it thickens. Return vegetables to the wok and mix everything together.
Serve hot, garnished with toasted sesame seeds.
Serves 2 or 3.