By Bill Daley
Spring, for me, isn’t sprung on the say-so of meteorologists or a calendar date but on the sudden, dramatic appearance in the neighborhood supermarket of a truckload of fresh asparagus shipped in from somewhere. For a moment I forget the local-seasonal mantra and think instead of what to do with those fresh, green spears.
A simple stir-fry is the answer.
Asparagus is the star of this dish. Red bell pepper adds contrast. Go with the protein of your choice: beef, chicken, shrimp, extra-firm tofu or, as here, boneless pork chops. Serve with steamed white or brown rice and, perhaps, an after-dinner bowl of green tea ice cream in keeping with that spring color scheme.
Roll-cutting the asparagus is a simple technique to add eye appeal and enhance the vegetable’s mouth feel. Lay a spear on the cutting board and make a diagonal cut. Roll the spear one-quarter turn and make another diagonal cut. Keep turning and slicing until the spear is chopped up.
1 lb. boneless pork cutlets, trimmed, cut into 1½-inch strips
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more if needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 piece (1 inch long) fresh ginger, peeled, minced
1 bunch green onions, trimmed, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, roll-cut into 1½-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips, 1½ inches long
1 tbsp. chili sauce, or more to taste
Marinate the pork in the soy sauce in a small bowl, about 20 minutes.
Heat wok or skillet over medium-high heat. When metal is hot enough to sizzle a drop of water on contact, pour in the oil. Move the wok or skillet to coat the entire surface with oil. Stir in the garlic, ginger and green onions; stir-fry until fragrant. Add asparagus spears; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes. Add red pepper strips; stir-fry 2-3 minutes. (At this point, the asparagus should be cooked but crisp-crunchy). Transfer vegetables to a bowl.
Add more oil to the wok or skillet if necessary. Turn out pork strips and marinade into the pan; stir-fry until the meat turns white and is almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Lower heat; return vegetables to the wok. Season with chili sauce. Stir-fry for a minute or so to combine flavors. Serve with steamed rice.
Makes 2 servings.
Note: To save time, prep all the vegetables while the pork marinates.