Saturday, April 6, 2013

Asparagus-Infused Reduction

You know, I don't ever really make reduction sauces. I realize this is because Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine, my main influences, don't include them. Or, come to think of it, really any Asian cuisines...I think. Correct me if I'm wrong. It seems like traditionally a Western cuisine thing. Also--it adds on a lot of extra time to food prep... But I recently saw a recipe that used the woody asparagus stems in making a sauce instead of tossing them out and thought that was a great idea.

Now, I can eat sautéed and seared asparagus straight, without seasoning; I think they just have that much flavor naturally. Same goes for red bell peppers. Hell, I happily eat them raw. So instead of doing that, I just improvised a simple asparagus infused chicken stock reduction to give the veggies some extra flavor. I also saved a little sauce to go with some seared Mahi Mahi.

I liked it! It seemed weird to me that after adding the sauce, the dish had a Chinese/Taiwanese taste to them. I guess garlic, white pepper, and chicken stock will do that. And scallions. By the way, I will throw chopped scallions and/or cilantro on anything and everything. In fact, I would love to have fresh scallions and cilantro available on demand, rather than have to buy a bundle and have the last bit go to waste or be wilting or decomposing by the time I get to it.

Pan-Fried Asparagus and Red Peppers with Asparagus Reduction

This recipe can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock.

1 lb. asparagus
1 red pepper, cut into strips

1 cup chicken stock
2 cloves garlic
pinch of white pepper

starch slurry
1/2 tsp tapioca starch
1 tsp water

peanut oil or other cooking oil

1 scallion, chopped (optional)
  1. Wash asparagus and snap off tough stems, reserving them for making the reduction sauce.
  2. Combine chicken stock, garlic, and asparagus stems in a small saucepan and heat over medium low heat. Reduce to about 1/4 cup. Remove asparagus stems and garlic with a slotted spoon.
    1. In a small bowl, mix tapioca starch and water. Stir starch slurry to disperse starch in the water and mix into the reduced stock, stirring constantly until stock has thickened into a sauce.
  3. While stock is reducing, sauté asparagus and red peppers. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Oil should flow freely around skillet. Add asparagus in appropriately sized batches such that vegetables fit in a single layer—don’t crowd the pan. Cook vegetables until browning or seared, several minutes per side.
  4. Arrange asparagus and red peppers on a plate and drizzle sauce over the vegetables. Garnish with chopped scallion if desired and serve immediately.

See? Cilantro. Delicious.


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