Springtime!


If the secret to good cooking is utilizing the best materials available, then today’s entry offers it.  Stir Fry Chicken with Asparagus has only a few ingredients, at least compared with other recipes you’ve seen here, but when one of those is the season’s first (and best) asparagus, how can it not be superb?

In this instance, the asparagus is being used to create a Cambodian dish, and is among the growing number of entries Khmer Krom Recipes has inspired.  Formally, at least, this preparation is called Sach Moan Char Tapeng P’rang, but it’s more direct just to call this what it is, Chicken with Asparagus.

The season for asparagus is relatively brief, mainly early-to-mid spring, and the time to take advantage of this all-too-fleeting abundance is now.  Sure, thanks to modern technology and to global supply routes, frozen spears are available year-round, but what’s offered fresh, and locally, is unmatched.

Asparagus adds nutty and almost earthy notes to any meal, this stir-fry chicken dish among them.  Of course, as with most cuisines, balance is crucial to Cambodian cooking.  The two main elements, chicken and asparagus, play well with each other.  The asparagus’s vegetal notes keep the chicken’s richness under control, while the bird’s savory traits bring out its counterpart’s character.

The other ingredients play their parts too.  Green onions, pepper and garlic give this dinner a little bite, while a handful of sugar keeps these tastes identifiable, but in supporting roles.  After all, you don’t want to upstage the stars.

What better time than now, as spring is finally and triumphantly here, than to enjoy the season’s excellence?  This dish may be enjoyed anytime, but now is when it sings.

*****

Sach Moan Char Tapeng P’rang

(Stir Fry Chicken with Asparagus)

  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  •  1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil (*1)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound chicken breast, sliced thinly (*2)
  • 2  stalks green onion, chopped
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into inch-lengths
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix water, corn starch, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar.  Set this aside.

Heat a wok over high temperatures.  When hot, add the oil.  Immediately add the chicken and garlic, stirring constantly until the meat is tender.

Ad the green onion and asparagus, then season with the sauce and the pepper.  Be careful not to overcook the asparagus.

Serve over rice.

NOTES:

1 – As with most Asian dishes, I prefer to use peanut oil.

2 – In this case, I chose thighs instead, as they’re more flavorful.

 

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