A friend said to me recently: "Oh, asparagus, lovely when it first arrives but then you get bored with it, don't you?"
Um, no, actually. I can eat industrial quantities of asparagus and I never get fed up with it, literally or figuratively. I do like to ring the changes with the way I cook it though.
Mostly we eat it steamed, with or without lashings of butter; tossed in a little oil and roasted; in soups, frittatas and risottos; and occasionally wrapped in pancakes.
But the other day I made this stir-fry on the wing, as it were, to go with a spiced duck dish and it was so good I thought it was worth sharing. The grassy taste of the asparagus works well with the sweetness of the peas and onions and the chilli gives zing to the thing.
Stir-fried Asparagus with Peas (serves 2 as a side dish)
6-8 asparagus stalks
A small bunch of spring onions
A couple of big handfuls of peas (frozen are fine)
Toasted sesame oil
Malay chilli and garlic oil (or a little chopped fresh chilli)
A dash of soy sauce
Bend the washed asparagus stems until they snap and discard the woody ends (save them for a stock if you like). Slice at an angle into 3cm slices. Trim the spring onions and slice on the diagonal.
In a wok, heat a teaspoon each of toasted sesame oil and chilli and shallot oil (or extra sesame oil). Stir-fry the asparagus first as it takes longer than you might think. After a couple of minutes throw in the spring onions.
Once both are cooked to your liking add the peas and stir-fry for a minute or two longer - fresh peas will take a bit longer than frozen. If you're using fresh chilli, add it with the peas.
Now add a small splash of soy sauce, let it bubble up and boil off a little, and stir well to coat the vegetables. Serve immediately.