Spring has been notable here for tempting us to believe it’s actually arrived. This is followed by plummeting temperatures the next day convincing us all it has not. In New York City, you can count on the oddest collection of outfits this time of year. The winter weary—mainly males—can be counted on to don their shorts and tee shirts the minute it gets close to 60 degrees. They are accompanied by vast numbers of people who resist any wardrobe change until it’s at least 75. At least that’s the impression I get standing on line in Trader Joes’ between a guy who looks ready for a run in the park and a woman who is wearing a wool hat, coat, scarf and gloves. Ah well.
A surer sign that Spring must be on its way is the arrival, at last, of Asparagus labeled “Jersey Fresh” and nice sacks of English Peas of indeterminate origin but nevertheless green as all get out. Asparagus has become a year ‘round vegetable due mainly to the fact that it gets trucked in from Mexico and flown in from Peru. In 1980, the US imported just 8 percent of its asparagus. By the end of the 1990s, imports had increased to 74 percent! But there is simply no comparison between Asparagus grown practically next door to stuff that has had to endure a three or six thousand mile journey to get here. Instead of those pencil-sized stems, local asparagus is big and fat and full of flavor. Now you can spend all kinds of time peeling the stems of your asparagus up to about 2 inches from the base. Or you can snap the stem and, somewhat miraculously, it will break off exactly where the woody and harder to eat part separates itself from the tender part of the shoot. But if even that seems wildly time-consuming, you throw away the bottom two inches. That’s what you do here in this easy weeknight dinner dish.
I can almost promise that this will not be the last asparagus recipe on the blog this spring. Asparagus, like ramps, has a huge following this time of year. The recipes come fast and furious for everything from frittatasto revueltos (coming soon!). And here’s one that’s a complete keeper. It’s a stir-fry of tender chicken, bright green asparagus to which I added fresh English peas and earthy Cremini mushrooms. You can absolutely use Shiitakes if you’d like and you can also go with frozen peas. If you are a regular visitor to Chewing the Fat, you are familiar with my love for Stir-fries. They are just so quick and easy and the only rule governing them is that you should have everything ready to go before you start cooking a single thing. And before you cook the stir-fry, start the rice so you’ll have a complete dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Here is the recipe:
Recipe for Ginger Chicken Stir Fry with Asparagus, Peas and Cremini Mushrooms.
Serves 6. Takes under 30 minutes.
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs,
cut into chunks of about 1 inch.
1/4 cup flour
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce,
1-1 inch piece of ginger peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes,
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges,
10 ounces medium mushrooms, sliced.
1. In a medium-sized bowl, coat chicken with 1/4 cup of the flour. Set aside.
2. In the same bowl, mix stock, honey, soy sauce in remaining flour, then add ginger, garlic powder and red pepper. Stir till smooth. Set aside.
3. Heat 1 tbsp. of Olive oil in wok or large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; stir fry 5 minutes or until browned, depending on size of chicken. Remove from wok or skillet.
4. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in wok. Add vegetables and mushrooms; stir-fry 5 minutes or until tender-crisp.
5. Stir stock mixture. Add to wok; stirring constantly, bring to boil on medium heat and boil 2 minutes or until thickened. Add chicken; stir-fry until heated through. Serve over rice.