Asparagus, Asian Style

My favorite Asian restaurant in Salt Lake City (Takashi) serves a warm asparagus dish that I love. The first time I had it, I went home and made it in so many variations I got tired of it. But that was three or four years ago, and it’s now spring asparagus season and I want to share it–as an anti-recipe. I don’t think you can ruin this as long as you don’t overcook the asparagus and keep tasting the sauce. To make the flavorful sauce, sauté pieces or slices of shiitake or maitake or any kind of mushroom in toasted sesame oil until the mushrooms are brown. At this point you can add minced shallot or garlic and/or ginger, tamari or soy sauce or miso, and something acid: balsamic or rice vinegar or mirin or citrus juice. In the version in the photo I used a dash of yuzu hot sauce and a splash of balsamic vinegar. You can steam or blanch the asparagus separately, or simply add it to the pan in which you have browned the mushrooms, cover, and let cook a few minutes. Add enough water to deglaze the pan and make a sauce. Maybe add more sesame oil? Keep tasting! Combine with bean thread/glass noodles that have been hydrated in boiling water. Garnish with chopped cilantro or chives or toasted sesame seeds. (I forgot about this for the photo.) If you want protein, serve with roasted tofu cubes or steamed shrimp. The dish is still delicious the next day, although I would let it come to room temperature before serving.

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