Shrimp and Asparagus say “I Do”

Fresh asparagus is synonymous with Spring and those spear-like green stalks lend a crisp contrast to shrimp’s juicy flesh. We love the delicate, briny flavor that shrimp brings to a stir-fry, especially in Stir-Fried Shrimp and Asparagus in Garlic Sauce—a perfect recipe that marries the two in a harmonious union.

If you use shelled, deveined shrimp, few dishes can be faster. In most cases, we buy the shrimp with their shells intact because we like to save them for making homemade seafood stock. Although I must admit, shelling and deveining the little critters are near the least favorite of culinary tasks.

The technique used here is atypical. Instead of a searing-hot skillet to cook all of the components, cook the vegetables on high but turn down the heat before adding the shrimp, which are then shallow-poached in sauce to keep them moist and tender. The sauce is built on a flavorful base of soy sauce, sherry, and sherry vinegar. A little cornstarch ensures that the sauce thickens to just the right shrimp- and vegetable-coating consistency.

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Start the shrimp stir-fry by tossing the shrimp with a little salt and sugar, which adds complexity without noticeable sweetness, and let them sit for 30 minutes. This not only seasons the shrimp but also helps them retain moisture during cooking. The rest of the meal doesn’t take long to prep, and just mere minutes to stir-fry making the recipe an ideal candidate for a weeknight dinner.

NOTE: Asian broad bean chili paste or sauce is also known as toban djan. Check out our other blog on this sauce, An Avid Fan of Toban Djan, with a very tasty recipe of Chicken, Shiitake and Watercress Stir-Fry.

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Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Asian broad bean chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 3 large scallions, white parts chopped fine, green parts cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias into 2-inch lengths

Directions

  1. Combine shrimp, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
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  2. Whisk 1/3 cup sherry, soy sauce, chili paste, and vinegar together in bowl. Whisk cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons sherry together in second bowl.
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  3. Heat oil and garlic in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until garlic is just beginning to brown at edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase heat to high, add scallion whites and ginger, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add asparagus and scallion greens, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer vegetable mixture to bowl.
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  4. Add sherry–soy sauce mixture and shrimp to skillet and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
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  5. Whisk sherry-cornstarch mixture to recombine and add to skillet; increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Return vegetable mixture to skillet and toss to combine. Transfer to serving dish and serve.
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IMG_1531We served ours over a bed of jasmine rice steamed in homemade seafood stock.

Found on Cooks Illustrated

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