A delicate vegetable like asparagus needs equally delicate culinary treatment. Steeping it in stock does just that, enhancing its inherent sweetness while preserving its pure taste.
1pound medium-sized asparagus, cleaned
1¼cups concentrated but clear chicken or ham stock
2teaspoonscornstarch dissolved in 1tablespoonstock
4 thin slicesfresh ginger, peeled
2-3scallions, cut into 1-inch sections, white and green parts separated
Chop off and discard the hard end of each asparagus stem. Halve the remainder. Split vertically halfway down the thicker bottom half, ensuring more even cooking.
Pour the stock into the wok and bring it to a boil. Add the salt and 1tablespoon of the oil. Add the asparagus, return to a boil, then continue to cook over a gentle heat for about 3 minutes. Carefully transfer the asparagus and stock to a bowl and leave the asparagus to steep in the stock for about 1-2 hours. The asparagus will be tender, yet still have a bite to them. Then lift them out of the stock onto a dish.
Stir the dissolved cornstarch into half of the stock, saving the remainder for another use.
Reheat the cleaned wok over a high heat until smoke rises. Add the remaining 2tablespoons oil and swirl it around. Add the ginger, stir, then add the white scallions. Lowering the heat to medium, return the asparagus to the wok and stir until thoroughly hot. Pour in the well-stirred stock, continuing to stir as it thickens. Mix in the green scallions, then transfer to a serving dish. Serve immediately.