Edited by Liv Wan.
The arrival of Spring means it’s the beginning of asparagus season! Asparagus (蘆筍) is a popular vegetable throughout China and has a delicate flower that is packed with health benefits.
Asparagus was originally classified in the lily family but it’s now part of the Asparagaceae family. Humans have a long history of consuming asparagus as a food but it has also long been used for medicine.
The earliest evidence is on an Egyptian frieze. Asparagus was pictured as an offering and this frieze was dated around 3000 BC.
Asparagus is commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a side dish, garnish and for stir-fries. Chinese people use asparagus to stir-fry with fish fillets, shrimp, scallops, meat, chicken and other additional vegetables. So when you choose a recipe, you can freely swap ingredients around.
One of my favourite ways to eat asparagus (this is also a very popular way to consume asparagus in Taiwan) is to blanch asparagus and cool it down in iced water immediately. We then serve it with some Taiwanese sweet mayonnaise and it’s just great.
Here are some of the health benefits that asparagus provides:
- Asparagus is very high in fiber and is a good source of folate, vitamins A, C, E, K and chromium.
- Asparagus can help your body to fight and prevent cancer.
- Asparagus can help you think better because it contains high levels of Vitamin B12.
- Asparagus contains high levels of antioxidants.
- It can help your body to get rid of excess salts!
- Because it contains high levels of fiber it’s a good vegetable for losing weight.
- In Chinese medicine it’s believed asparagus is good for your lungs and can help your body to get rid of coughs and any mucus from one’s throat.
Here are several Chinese recipes featuring asparagus, from main dishes to simple vegetable stir-fries and an easy 5 ingredient asparagus salad.
This chicken and asparagus stir-fry makes creative use of Chinese and Thai seasonings to produce a delicious stir-fry recipe that goes nicely with pot-stickers and steamed rice.
Thai chili paste and fish sauce are available in Asian markets or stores that sell ingredients used in Southeast Asian cooking.
Beef and Black Beans With Asparagus
Here’s another way to feature fresh asparagus in season. The strong flavour of Chinese Black Beans contrasts nicely with the sweet taste of fresh asparagus.
I have oil-blanched the beef to make a nice contrast in texture with crisp asparagus, but you can stir-fry it instead if desired.
Fresh asparagus turns out tender but still crisp, coated with a flavourful oyster-based sauce in this easy stir-fry with mushrooms and red bell peppers.
This recipe uses approximately 4 cups vegetables and is designed to have a bit of extra sauce to go with the rice.
Stir-fry Scallops and Asparagus
Asparagus pairs nicely with scallops and fresh mushrooms in this dish from the California asparagus commission.
You can also use shrimp instead of scallops if you wish.
Asparagus and Lamb stir-fry
An easy lamb stir-fry recipe comes from the California Asparagus Commission: lamb is cut across the grain, making it extra tender, then stir-fried with asparagus in a flavourful sauce.
Shrimp With Chili Sauce
Hot peppers add spice to this shrimp and asparagus stir-fry.