Stir-Fried Prawns with Fresh Asparagus

Asparagus is a relatively recent addition to the Chinese culinary repertoire. It immediately became extremely popular in Hong Kong, and its use has spread to other Asian cookery influenced by the New Hong Kong cuisine.

In any event, its popularity is well earned because this vegetable in season is colourful, crunchy and with a pleasing taste all its own. Moreover, it works well with almost all types of food. Here I have combined it with prawns. The unique tastes of these two wonderful foods is complemented by their contrasting textures – the soft prawns and the snap of the asparagus.

Once the prawns have been velveted, the whole dish is put together very quickly in the versatile wok.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) asparagus
  • 450 g (1 lb) raw prawns
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 450 ml (15 fl oz) groundnut oil or water
  • tablespoons groundnut oil
  • tablespoons finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

For the Garnish

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions

Method

Slice the asparagus thinly at a slight diagonal, discarding the tough ends. Peel the prawns and, if you are using large uncooked ones, cut them to remove the fine digestive cord. Wash them and pat them dry with kitchen paper.

Combine the prawns with the egg white, cornflour, salt, sesame oil and pepper. Mix well and and let the mixture sit in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Heat a wok until it is very hot and then add the oil. When the oil is very hot, remove the wok from the heat and immediately add the prawns, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the prawns turn white (about 2 minutes), quickly drain them.

If you choose to use water instead of oil, bring it to a boil in a pan. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the prawns, stirring vigorously to keep them from sticking. When the prawns turn white (about 2 minutes), quickly drain them.

Re-heat the wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the tablespoons of oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the ginger and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the asparagus and 3 tablespoons of water and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Then return the prawns to the wok, together with the Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Stir-fry the mixture for 1 minute. Stir in the sesame oil and give the mixture 2 turns. Turn on to a platter, garnish with spring onions and serve at once.

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