September 18, 2013

Beyond Shandong Asparagus

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Tradition is not sacred in my kitchen. Here, Shandong-style asparagus is amped up
with black vinegar, garlic, sesame and chilies. Delicious!

      Shandong asparagus, embellished. Credit: Susan Sampson


1 lb (450 g) asparagus (1 bunch)
1 tbsp
(15 mL) soy sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) each: toasted sesame oil, Chinese black vinegar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) chili flakes
1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp (5 mL) toasted mixed black and white sesame seeds

Trim asparagus. Cut each stalk on diagonal into 4 segments. In medium pan of boiling, salted water, cook asparagus on medium heat 2 minutes, or just until tender-crisp and bright green. Drain. Plunge asparagus into large bowl of ice water. Let sit 2 minutes. Drain. Place on paper towels and pat dry.

In medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, chili flakes and garlic. Add asparagus. Toss gently to coat.

Transfer to serving plate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Makes 4 servings.

Shopping Cart: Toasted black or white sesame seeds are sold in Asian grocery stores and in the sushi sections of some supermarkets. If you can’t find any, use regular sesame seeds and toast them in a dry skillet.

B is for Black Vinegar: Chinese black vinegar is aged, and has a complex, assertive flavour. It is the Chinese equivalent to balsamic vinegar. Asian food shops sell Chinese black vinegar. The label will say Chinkiang vinegar (or another similar spelling).