Dreaming of spring, I cook – and eat – an entire bunch of stir-fried asparagus

My friends will tell you I'm a little bit crazy. 

OK, maybe more than a little. This day and evening are a case in point. At 8 a.m. I was at my home computer, fiddling with a story I was trying to post online for work. I made coffee. I launched into writing a review, fearing I'd be late for my noon deadline. At some point I made a salad (with Thousand Island dressing, which I deserved, as I was on deadline) and then at three thirty or four I filed, apologizing profusely to everyone involved. Caught up with emails. Jumped into another story I'm writing, this one for Palate magazine, which I'm editing and which has to be completely finished a week from today. (Insane!)

After a while, I looked at my watch and was stunned that it was 7:30. I got up from my desk and turned lights on in the other rooms. Thierry was out, and the house was empty. What would I do for dinner? Some people might just make some pasta or something else they had around, but I wanted something green. I've been craving asparagus. And I'd been eyeing a new cookbook I thought would be fun to review: Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes. I flipped through to see if there was a recipe involving asparagus. Bingo! Stir-fried asparagus! I got in the car and headed to the market to buy a bunch.

Oh, but wait – as long as I was headed to the store, maybe I should see if there was something else I wanted to make. I went back inside. Flipping through the book again, I landed on something irresistible: lacquered roast chicken. "Lacquered" is like a magic word for me, no way not to succumb. Further, this looks like the easiest roast chicken recipe in maybe all of history. Four ingredients, including salt (a bird, some honey and soy sauce). You paint the bird with half-honey, half-soy, sprinkle with salt. Let it sit, uncovered in the fridge, 12 hours to 2 days. Pop it in the oven, roast 50 minutes, let rest 15, and carve. Had to try! 

Bought the chicken, bought the asparagus. The recipe called for one large bunch. Drove back home.

Stir-frying asparagus


I brought a large pot of water to a boil, added salt, dropped in cut-up veg, blanched briefly and drained. Heated oil in the wok, added garlic, then asparagus, then chopped Thai chiles, and stir-fried. Then oyster sauce, sugar, white pepper. Stir-fried. Then chicken stock, and cooked till sauce thickened a little.

"Serve on a large platter," it said, and so I did. It should have said a small platter – not a whole lot of asparagus here. The recipe said it made four servings, but I'd say two or three. OK, maybe my bunch of asparagus wasn't that big, but it was the biggest one I saw. 

I took a few picture of it, then sat at the table, poured a glass of white wine, pulled out some chopsticks, and ate the asparagus. All of it. It was very good. Try it. See for yourself.

But wait. There was more: the chicken. Spring chicken! I mixed together two tablespoons of honey and two tablespoons of soy sauce, then painted a thin, even layer on the chicken. Set the time for 15 minutes, during which I did the dishes. Ding! I painted the chicken with the rest of the marinade, then sprinkled it with two teaspoons of kosher salt and put it in the fridge, uncovered. Tomorrow or Saturday (who can think that far ahead!?) I'll zip it into the oven. 

To all a good night.