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1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus , rinsed and ends snapped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon serrano chile or jalapeņo chiles, halved, seeds and ribs removed, chiles cut crosswise 1/8 inch thick
2 tablespoons soy sauce or fish sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup chopped fresh basil
3 large chiles of your choice, sliced on the diagonal into thin ovals, or 9 thin strips cut from a red bell pepper
1. Bring 1 inch water to boil in a soup kettle. Put asparagus in steamer basket, then carefully place steamer basket in kettle; cover and steam over medium-high heat until asparagus is slightly undercooked, about 4 minutes for medium spears. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Heat a wok or large, deep skillet over high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat surface.
3. Add garlic and minced chile; toss until garlic begins to turn golden, about 15 seconds.
4. Add the asparagus; stir-fry until coated with oil, about 15 seconds.
5. Add soy sauces and 1 tablespoon water; stir-fry until liquid almost evaporates, about 30 seconds.
6. Add sugar; stir-fry another 30 seconds. Add the basil and sliced chiles; stir-fry until basil wilts. Serve hot or at room temperature.