- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I adore springtime asparagus, either served to the side of a grilled steak or combined with shrimp and an easy supermarket sauce for this midweek dinner wonder. You simply simmer shrimp in a zesty store-bought Thai chili sauce and cook asparagus in another pot.

When the shrimp have cooked and the asparagus spears are bright green and still crisp, spoon everything onto a plate, sprinkle cilantro and sesame seeds on top, and you have one of the most interesting combinations of sweet and hot flavors available.

I use Thai Kitchen Sweet Red Chili Sauce in this recipe.

The recipe uses about half of a 7-ounce bottle. A possible side dish to enhance the Thai shrimp and asparagus is jasmine rice.

It is starchier and stickier than long-grain converted rice and much more flavorful. You can find it at many supermarkets, natural-food stores and Asian markets.

Thai shrimp and asparagus

The preparation time is 10 minutes, and the cooking time is 6 to 8 minutes.

½ cup Thai chili sauce

1/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or water

½ pound already peeled and deveined medium-size shrimp

Water

16 medium-size asparagus spears (about half a pound)

1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (see note)

Pour the chili sauce and broth into a medium-size skillet and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, turning the shrimp, until they turn pink and opaque and are cooked through and the sauce thickens somewhat, 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour water to a depth of 1 inch in a large skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Rinse the asparagus spears and snap off and discard their tough ends.

When the water comes to a boil, add the asparagus and reduce the heat to medium.

Let the asparagus simmer until it turns bright green, 3 minutes. Drain the water from the skillet, cut the asparagus into serving pieces, and then add the soy sauce to the asparagus.

To serve, spoon the shrimp onto plates. Garnish the shrimp with the asparagus, cilantro and sesame seeds, if using. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

Note: Toast sesame seeds in a small heavy, dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until the seeds turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t use a nonstick skillet for this.

Anne Byrn is the author of the Doctor cookbook series, including “The Cake Mix Doctor” and “The Dinner Doctor” and “Cupcakes From the Cake Mix Doctor” (Workman Publishing).

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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