5.17.2010

It's here

The asparagus is in.

If you see my mother, you can let her know I finally made that asparagus stir-fry she keeps raving about. She found it on 101 Cookbooks last spring—sautéed asparagus and greens with seared tofu and lime juice and hoisin sauce—and it became a staple for her and my father. Only by the time she got around to telling me about it, the asparagus was gone. It's been a long nine months.

You can also tell her that I changed the recipe a little bit. I couldn't bring myself to buy tofu, so instead I used local sea scallops from Alex's market. They were wonderful—perfect, even—except that the first time around, I didn't account for just how much liquid a block of tofu sponges up. Everything was a little too limey, a little too hoisony, a little too sauced.

The second time around, though—the second time, I got it right. I used a bundle of Tim Friary's asparagus, basil from E & T Farms, mint and spinach from our garden, and almost half the hoisin and lime. The vegetables were springy, and fantastic, and just right. The sweetness of the hoisin toned down the tang of the lime, the greens wilted into soft, aromatic ribbons, and the scallops stood firm, golden, fresh.


It was the kind of stir-fry worth waiting nine months for. And now that the asparagus is here, I have a feeling we'll be making it over and over again until the spears disappear.

ASPARAGUS & SEA SCALLOP STIR-FRY

I adapted this recipe slightly from the original over at 101 Cookbooks to take advantage of the beautiful sea scallops that have been at Alex's market recently. The most time consuming part of this recipe is preparing the ingredients—do all the chopping first—and once you fire up the stove, the actual cooking will be done in less than five minutes. Now that the farmers' markets are open in Provincetown and Orleans ( ! ) all of the vegetables can be sourced locally, just picked, and fresh.

8 ounces small sea scallops
1/3 cup toasted sesame oil, divided
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon peeled and freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 pound spinach or Swiss chard, roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/2 cup fresh mint, slivered
1 cup fresh basil, slivered

Pat the scallops dry. Heat up half of the sesame oil over very high heat in a large soup pot or wok. When the pan and the oil are very hot, drop the scallops in and sear them for two minutes, or until they develop a nice golden crust. Flip the scallops and sear for another minute; this side shouldn't take as long. Turn the heat down to medium high, take the scallops out of the pan, and set them aside.

Add the remaining sesame oil. Once it's hot, add the scallions, ginger, red pepper, asparagus, and salt. Stir fry them for about a minute, then add the garlic, cashews, almonds, and spinach or Swiss chard. Stir fry, stirring frequently, for another minute or two, or until the greens start to wilt. Add the scallops back into the pan, pour in the lime juice and zest and hoisin sauce, and cook for another minute, stirring the whole time. Turn the heat off, stir in the mint and basil, and adjust the seasonings (more salt or hoisin) to taste. Serve hot, either on its own or over cooked oat groats or whole wheat noodles.

8 comments :

Alison said...

Sounds wonderful...though our asparagus and artichoke vendor was missing this week at the market. I hope that doesn't mean that our asparagus season is over. I did buy 2 pounds of cherries though!

I'm glad to hear Cape markets are opening up...things should be in full swing when we get back in ONE short month. Yipee!

Alison

Elspeth said...

Cherries...sigh. One of these days—maybe a little bit longer than ONE month!

Things are definitely kicking into high gear, so hurry up and get back to the Cape!

Elspeth

Anonymous said...

Elspeth, so glad you finally got around to trying this recipe! Papa and I made it last week for the first time this year -- yum. The variation with scallops sounds fabulous!

Just for the record, dear readers: if you can't get fresh scallops, don't be afraid to try this with the tofu called for in Heidi Swanson's original recipe.I am not generally a fan of tofu, but honestly, it works very nicely in this dish (though I'd go full dose on the sauce, not cut it in half as Elspeth has done for scallops). ~Elspeth's mom

laurie said...

I was lucky enought to get some of tims asparagus this weekend.Dinner the other night was a whole plate of asparagus with three dipping sauces.Tommorow i am going to try your dish.Sounds great!

Elspeth said...

Laurie,

Three dipping sauces! Oh my. That sounds amazing. It's hard to beat grilled asparagus dipped into delicious sauce. You might have to share your secrets with us!

All the best,
Elspeth

Bie said...

this is the best ever How I wish I was feeding a family.Biee

Elspeth said...

Biee,

How I wish I was feeding you!

xoxo

6512 and growing said...

Yum yum yum! (from a huge fan of local food in Southwest Colorado).

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