I’ve said it before, but I am by no means skilled in the area of Asian cooking, nor do I have much motivation to hone those culinary skills. That sounds lazy. What I really mean is that given the option, I’d much rather learn to make a killer souffle than master dumplings at home. Maybe dumpling is a bad example, I really love dumplings. Ok- let’s just say that of all cuisines, I feel the least confident in this area in the kitchen. When following even the simplest Thai or Chinese recipes, I measure every ingredient exactly, I don’t dare trust my own judgement. I’m also very reluctant to attempt recipes which require a laundry list of unusual ingredients. So when I happen upon a Asian inspired dish that is not only straight forward, but for which I already have all the ingredients in my cupboard- I’m sold.
Such was the case with this asparagus recipe. It’s asparagus season, and I highly encourage you to welcome the bounty with this dish. I’ve used this recipe to prepare all 3 pounds of asparagus in our fridge; it is that good. It’s all in the sauce, which gains its highly addictive flavor from the combination of salty soy sauce, sweet brown sugar, and tangy rice wine vinegar. When roasted, the sauce caramelizes slightly, giving the asparagus such depth of flavor. The sauce is highly versatile, too. Aside from spooning it straight into your mouth (yes, that happened), it’d be perfect as a sauce or marinade for shrimp, chicken, beef, or any other vegetables like green beans, cabbage, or mushrooms.
Sweet Soy Roasted Asparagus adapted from Dana Treat
1 lb asparagus spears
2 tsp water
1 tsp garlic chile sauce or curry paste
5 tsp rice wine vinegar
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together all ingredients, from the water through the sesame oil. Place asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with 3/4 of the sauce. Bake for 12-14 minutes. I like mine quite crisp, so I only cook them for 12 minutes. Cook longer if you prefer your asparagus softer. Once cooked, serve immediately with remaining sauce on the side.