March 23, 2012

Broiled Asparagus w Oyster Sauce

.. continuing from my previous post, I was looking for a super-quick meal this evening. So I made Stir-Fried Oyster Mushrooms & Snow Peas and paired those up with New Veggie #21 - Asparagus. It's early Spring here in Ohio and fresh asparagus is everywhere. I got a nice bunch of super thin tender stalks at the store yesterday and was looking forward to it all day today. 

Prep Time: 8 min

  1. A clean non-stick cookie sheet 
  2. 1 bunch Asparagus
  3. 1 tbsp Vegetarian Oyster Sauce*
  4. Salt, to taste. 
Spread asparagus in a single layer on a clean non-stick cookie sheet. Broil on high for 5-7 minutes until done. I like mine when it is just beginning to wilt and has a few brown spots beginning to show on the stalks. Remove cookie sheet from the oven, sprinkle with salt. Transfer to a deep serving dish and drip the oyster sauce over the top. The heat from the asparagus makes the sauce thinner so that a little bit goes a long way. Give the asparagus a quick toss in the watery sauce before serving yourself. 

Nik's Reaction: Even before I could ask him if he wanted to have any, he saw my plate and immediately said "Mom, can I have some bean-beans (green beans)?

My Assessment: I've had asparagus gazillions of times before. However, this was the first time I cooked it in a couple of years. At restaurants, I always order asparagus as a side if they have it on their menu.  Tonight, I really liked the fact that the stalks were super tender, it was broiled just right and I loved the flavor imparted by Oyster sauce. My dinner plate tonight was phenomenal!! 

* Oyster Sauce: In case you haven't figured it out yet .. I'm on an Oyster sauce kick right now. I hadn't had it for a while and then last week in San Francisco I had Broccoli in Oyster Sauce. While the version I ate at this Chinese restaurant was not vegetarian, it was amazingly flavorful and it reminded me of how much just a table spoon of this condiment can do for veggies. So what the heck is Oyster sauce?? 

Real Oyster Sauce is made by boiling oysters in water and condensing the extract until it is thick paste. This version has absolutely no additives, not even salt. As can be expected it is quite exorbitantly priced and is hardly ever used expect probably in gourmet restaurants. The version that is more routinely in Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine can also be found in grocery stores. Regular Oyster Sauce is a dark brown sauce made with water, sugar, and salt, thickened with cornstarch and flavored with oyster extract. This version is also sometimes darkened with caramel. Vegetarian Oyster Sauce, the kind I use, is typically prepared from oyster and/or shiitake mushrooms and imparts a flavor similar to the Non-Vegetarian version and is superbly inexpensive for the joy it provides :) 

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