This simple stir-fry dish brings together an interesting pair of main ingredients, and the winning trick is that it's a balanced, clean combination that lets you savor each flavor.
The recipe guides the cook smartly through preparation taking only 20 minutes or so, allowing you to get family supper on the table fast - or even dinner with friends.
The dish's components are lightly cooked fresh asparagus contrasting in texture and taste with thinly sliced lamb. Make sure you cut the lamb across the grain to ensure tender mouthfuls.
If you wish, you can give the stir-fry a spicier kick with a dash of extra chili-garlic sauce. Serve with steamed rice or rice noodles, cooked and kept warm while you prepare the stir-fry.
Asparagus and Lamb Stir-Fry
(Preparation and cooking time 20 minutes)
1 pound boneless lamb (from leg or loin)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons cornstarch
½ cup low-sodium chicken stock or dry sherry
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce (Chinese)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
4 green onions, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
Cut lamb into long, 2-inch wide strips along the grain of the meat, then cut crosswise (across the grain), into thin slices. In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.
To make the sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the stock, the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon cornstarch, the chili-garlic sauce and sugar; set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Pour 1 tablespoon oil into the hot wok, swirling to coat. Add the lamb and cook, stirring and tossing, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium-high. Pour the remaining 1 tablespoon oil into the hot wok, swirling to coat. Add the green onions, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring and tossing, until bright green, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Stir the sauce to blend and add to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute; cover and cook until asparagus is tender-crisp, about 1 minute. Return lamb to the pan and just heat through. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve immediately with steamed rice or rice noodles.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 434 cal., 22 g total fat (5 g saturated), 116 mg chol., 657 mg sodium, 15 g carbo., 4 g dietary fiber, 42 g pro.
(Recipe developed for AP by Tina Salter, courtesy California Asparagus Commission)