Thursday, March 8, 2012

Asparagus and Mushroom Stir Fry with Tofu

Fresh local asparagus signals the approach of Spring, even if the weather indicates Winter is still firmly ensconced. Sunshine, hail, snow and more sun... all in one day! Local asparagus isn't available yet, probably not until April, but local grocery stores featured it this week. It's in season somewhere. I did buy one bunch of plump, green spears, but managed to resist a strong urge to make Hollandaise sauce. How's that for will power? Since this was only the first week in March, I knew there would be other opportunities to indulge in that decadent lemony buttery sauce when local asparagus is plentiful. (Click here to see the Farmers' Markets produce calendar for Seattle.)

A quick stir fry sounded good, asparagus paired with mushrooms and tofu would be a healthy one-pot treat. Add onions, garlic, fresh ginger and an Asian sauce for flavor and presto! there's a fast and easy entree.  

Oyster sauce sat on the top fridge shelf, almost wiggling in wild enthusiasm and calling out "Choose me, choose me!" - almost. Oh yes, I know that flavor well. Just show me a bottle of oyster sauce and I immediately think of Broccoli Beef, its distinctive taste a strong food memory. That dish was one of our standard orders at Chinese restaurants for a lot of years. Any sauce that stands up to the assertive flavor of broccoli should work well with asparagus. Add oyster sauce to the ingredient list for this stir fry. 

It sounded promising, but lately my stir fry dishes all seemed to taste the same - adequate but boring. There was a clue that it was time to revisit both procedure and seasonings. I turned to one of my favorite blogs for inspiration, a return to basics and a fresh start on stir frying. Click on SteamyKitchen's recent post for an instructive photo course in Stir Fry 101. I used that technique for this dish, but adjusted the ingredients to fit what was available in my refrigerator. There's another reason to love a stir fry, it's so flexible. 

Fast - easy - flexible - what more can you ask of a tasty and healthy dish?

Asparagus and Mushroom Stir Fry with Tofu
Based on a Steamy Kitchen recipe 

serves 4 (or 2 large appetites)

1 bunch (approx. 8-9 oz) fresh asparagus, cut in 2- 3 inch lengths
2 teaspoons Canola oil
½ medium white or yellow onion, sliced  thin vertically
6 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced medium thick
½ brick of firm tofu (approx. 7 oz), cut into fork-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated, pressed or minced
1 generous tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons water

1. Add ½ cup water to a wok or saute pan. Bring to a boil and then add the asparagus. Cover and let steam for 2-3 minutes or until just barely tender. Drain the beans and set aside. Dry the pan and return to the stove.
2. Heat the wok over high heat and swirl in the cooking oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and mushrooms and stir fry for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked asparagus, tofu chunks, ginger and garlic. Vigorously stir fry for 30 seconds more or until fragrant. Do not burn the ginger or garlic (or you’ll totally mess up the flavor).
3. Add the oyster sauce and water. Cook for 1 minute, tossing and stirring to coat all of the ingredients. Serve immediately, accompanied with a side of rice. 

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