HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chile


Farmers Market Asparagus
Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chile

West 66th Street and Broadway

The Farmer's Market in Richard Tucker Square
        We live in a very urban setting in New York and it comes as somewhat a surprise to visitors that there’s a thriving Farmers Market in our midst three days a week.  It's just a couple of blocks down from us and right in front of Lincoln Center. Its presence really shouldn't be a surprise. New York has the largest and most diverse outdoor urban farmers market network in the country.  What began in 1976 with 12 farmers in a parking lot on 59th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan has now grown to 54 markets with over 230 family farms and fishermen participating, and over 30,000 acres of farmland protected from development. 

        Our Farmers Market is reduced to selling Apples and Cider and artisanal baked goods and cheeses most of the year.  But as Spring comes along the place positively bursts with produce and plants.  And this week, local asparagus arrived in beautiful green stalks.  Of course, asparagus has become ubiquitous here year-round.  Somehow that’s almost a shame as the mealy supermarket stuff often tastes like it got here on its own power and lost a lot of its flavor on its voyage from Peru or Mexico or wherever its grown.   It tastes nothing like the delicious, crisp, tender local asparagus whose season is all too short. 

        There’s never any shortage of ways to cook asparagus at this time of year.  Simply cooked, spritzed with lemon, patted with butter, it’s a dream vegetable.   However, I’m always of the lookout for ways to vary the offering.   That’s why this incredibly simple-to-make stir fry caught my eye in Bon Appetit.  I’m loathe to proselytize yet again, but once you’ve conquered the stir-fry, you’ll want to use this method again and again. Stir-fries cut your kitchen time down to next-to-nothing.  Just make sure you have all your ducks in a row before you start and stir-fry away!  You’ve just discovered the perfect way to serve crisp, perfectly cooked vegetables like…Asparagus! 
      In the original recipe, the requested pork for this dish was described as being “coarsely ground” and “sometimes labeled chili grind”.  I could find no such thing and I could tell by looking at the Bon Appetit photo that the ground pork I get would be no stand in for “chili grind”.  So I made the switch to strips of boneless pork.  A pork chop would do but I found some pork cutlets with some nice marbling and went with them.  The orginal recipe also called for a red jalapeno pepper.  Since we love spicy food, I had no qualms about substituting Chili Garlic Sauce.  You can serve this dish over rice if you’d like but we thought it was amazingly good—and low carb—without it.  Here’s the recipe:


Recipe for Spicy Pork with Asparagus and Chile
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon Shaoxing Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
2 teaspoons cornstarch
12 ounces pork cut into ½ inch strips
3 teaspoons Asian sesame oil, divided
12 ounces thin to medium asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on extreme diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces
1 tbsp. Chili Garlic Sauce (Tuong ot Toi Viet-Nam)
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons oyster sauce*
1 teaspoon honey
2 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
Fine sea salt
*Oyster sauce is available in the Asian foods section of supermarkets and at Asian markets.


    Whisk 1 tablespoon soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch in medium bowl. Add pork; toss to blend. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in heavy large wok or deep skillet over high heat. Add asparagus, chile, and ginger. Toss until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.



Using slotted spoon, transfer asparagus mixture to plate. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to wok. Add pork mixture and stir-fry until browned, using spoon to break up pork into small pieces, 2 to 3 minutes. Return asparagus mixture to wok.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, oyster sauce, and honey; stir-fry until pork is cooked through, adding water by tablespoonfuls if dry, about 2 minutes. Add green onions; toss to incorporate. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

2 comments:

  1. You are so right about stir fry cooking Monte - it really is a wonderful method, and you do need to have the proper equipment as well. The menu was lovely, and then you noted that it was also low carb. However, I have to also tell you I watch my salt so I really have to thin out items like the Oyster sauce, Soy is always low sodium, Shrimp paste, Fish Sauce,etc. And THEN, I see all those beautiful artisan breads at your farmers market and there go the carbs - cuz I'm not missing out on that action! Thanks Monte!

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  2. Dear Ana, I wanted to share with you this post from my Facebook friend, Marcella Hazan:
    Marcella Hazan
    "The panic over the use of salt has done more damage to good cooking, that is to cooking with flavor, both in restaurants and at home, than any other single factor. Stay away from processed and other junk food, and cook with all the salt required to draw flavor from your food."

    Study Finds Low-Salt Diet Ineffective but Draws Criticism From C.D.C.
    www.nytimes.com
    Officials at the Centers for Disease Control publicly criticized a European study that found low-salt diets increased the risk of death from cardiovascular ailments.

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