A veggie recipe! Look! See, I don’t eat like Fred Flinstone all the time!
I won’t pretend in any way this dish is original to me. I originally came across it on the awesome Appetite for China and I’ve cooked it numerous times since. The cooking of all of that 1tbsp of ground pepper at the start sounds weird, but it imparts the most amazing flavour alongside the coriander and garlic. I would never cook asparagus in this way, but there’s only so much cooked till soft asparagus with butter I can really eat. This makes a nice seasonal alternative that amps up the Asian flavours in an interesting way.
I’ve made it a few times and have invariably been adding, changing, adapting over time. Alongside the asparagus, purple sprouting broccoli works really well – just make sure you trim down the spears and stalks to a size that will mean they cook in the same time as the asparagus.
The Thai connection had also not passed me by, so I invariably thought that those fresh green peppercorns you encounter in Thai cooking would also work well. So I’ve also taken to adding a few of those peppercorns in brine you can get at the start with the rest of the pepper. That definitely gives it a bit more zip.
And to ensure a bit of extra protein, some toasted chopped peanuts usually work their way into this too. If you want to go all out veggie, you can sub the fish sauce for soy sauce (I did this today, primarily as I realised I’d run out of fish sauce).
Alongside some white rice, this makes a great veggie dinner – it feels healthy, but not at the sacrifice of savoury, spicy flavour that comes from stir frying a tablespoon of pepper.
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