These are a more delicate version of the scallion and beef rolls so popular in Japanese restaurants in America.
Snap off the tough stems of the asparagus; you’ll be left with stalks about
Lay out the slices of beef and try to match with asparagus stalks that are as long as the beef is wide. If the beef should tear, you can patch it up by laying another piece on top of it. Roll the beef snugly around the asparagus and hold it in place by threading a toothpick lengthwise through the meat but not through the asparagus. You should be able to make about ten rolls.
Melt the suet in a heavy skillet, or oil the pan lightly. Heat the skillet, then add the rolls, seam side down, and sear them over high heat. The seams will seal quickly and then you can easily turn the rolls to brown on all sides. After about 1 minute, when the beef has changed color, add the rice wine, then the sugar, soy sauce, and water. Lower the heat slightly and continue to cook for 2 minutes, shaking the pan to keep the rolls moving.
Remove the skillet from the source of heat and remove the tooth-picks by first twirling them in place, then pulling them out. If there’s a great deal of foamy liquid in the pan at this stage, take the rolls out of the pan and, while you work at removing the toothpicks, let the pan juices simmer to reduce. (You can prepare the rolls up to this point 1 hour before serving. Keep the rolls covered, but at room temperature.)
Return the beef and asparagus rolls to the pan and briefly cook over high heat, shaking the pan constantly to glaze them.
Cut each of the rolls in thirds and serve immediately with fresh toothpicks, or let the sliced pieces cool to room temperature.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.