Crunchy Asparagus Stir-Fry

by Rosemary Fifield

I’ve been doing a lot of stir-frying lately, a quick and easy technique that works not only when cooking from scratch but as a more interesting way to use up leftovers like cooked steak, chicken breast, or pork roast. A quick trip through the vegetable crisper is bound to turn up something that stir-fries well—asparagus, broccoli, a bell pepper, a hunk of cabbage—even if I haven’t planned ahead and brought home sugar snap peas or snow pea pods. Add onion and garlic, a quick sauce, and boring leftovers are transformed in the time it takes to boil the rice.

Last night, faced with not quite enough leftover sirloin tips for two, I decided to stretch the meat with a handful of asparagus spears, half of a red bell pepper, sliced, and a medium onion sliced longitudinally in strips. Cutting fresh asparagus on the bias is not only attractive, but also makes it easy to keep this wonderful spring vegetable nicely crunchy. Because the sirloin tips were already at the perfect stage of medium rare, I sliced the meat thinly, on the bias as well, and added it to the mixture just before serving the whole thing.

I wanted to keep the sauce simple and brown, so I incorporated about 1/4 cup of sherry (Marsala, actually), 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, enough cold water to make a slurry, and 2 tablespoons of tamari (my favorite choice for soy sauce). For something a little spicier, red pepper flakes would make a nice addition.

Assembly is quick and easy. Heat a small amount of canola oil in a wok or frying pan, add the vegetables, and stir-fry over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and add to the vegetables, stirring continuously until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Stir in more water as needed to achieve the desired saucy consistency. Turn off the heat, add the thinly sliced meat, toss well, and serve immediately over rice or noodles.

Of course, you could start with thinly sliced raw beef, pork, or chicken, stir-frying the meat before adding the vegetables and sauce. Or keep it vegan. Sliced mushrooms or nuts like peanuts or cashews are always a welcome addition to a stir-fry.

For those who prefer an ingredient list to work from:

Serves 2

1 Tbs. canola oil
8 medium to large asparagus spears, cut on the bias into pieces about 1 inch long
½ red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, sliced into strips
¼ cup sherry
1 Tbs. hoisin sauce
1 Tbs. cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
2 Tbs. tamari or soy sauce
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup sliced leftover cooked beef, pork, or chicken


Rosemary Fifield is a long-time Co-op member, foodie, author, and the Co-op’s Education Director Emerita. Our Co-op’s vision is a well-nourished community cultivated through cooperation. 

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