Perhaps the most common misconception about stir-frying? That it can always accommodate whatever stray vegetables can be found in the fridge. Sometimes such an approach works. Sometimes it results in a jumble of competing textures, colors and flavors. Our preferred approach is to single out a seasonal vegetable -- such as asparagus -- and let its flavor shout.
Set some rice to cook before starting the stir-fry.
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 16 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 12 ounces asparagus
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 2/3 cup roasted cashews
In a shallow bowl, combine the oyster sauce and pepper.
Pat the chicken dry and cut it into bite-size pieces. Add the chicken to the oyster sauce mixture and toss to coat. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the ends of the asparagus and cut the stalks and tips into 1-inch pieces.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water until no lumps remain.
Place a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the garlic and the chicken mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the asparagus and stock and cook, stirring frequently, until the asparagus is almost tender but still slightly crisp, about 3 minutes. Add the rice wine and cook for 1 minute. Stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine, add it to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, just until the sauce boils and thickens. Add the cashews and toss to coat. Remove from the heat. Serve immediately.
Adapted from "Martin Yan's Invitation to Chinese Cooking" (Bay Books, 1999).
Tested by Renee Schettler.
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