What it is:
A simple yet powerfully flavorful and healthy side dish to accompany any meal. The dish has even been featured as a “pick” in the Men’s Health Eat This, Not That series. And, let’s not forget, it’s a great and easy way to have restaurant-quality food without even having to leave the house.
***NOTE: Since P.F.Chang’s doesn’t publish many recipes, save for a few selected for its Chef’s Corner section of the website, this is essentially a knock-off of the recipe made to taste as similar as possible to the original (hence the “imitation” in the title).***
For 2 servings
5 ounces fresh asparagus (about 10 medium spears)
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon, fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon chili paste
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup oyster sauce*
1 tablespoon peanut oil**
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
Sesame seeds (optional)
What to do:
Before you begin, make sure that you have plenty of ventilation and your cooking area isn’t near a sensitive smoke detector as there can be a tremendous amount of smoke produced when stir-frying.
1. Slice the onion and trim and cut the asparagus spears into thirds on a bias
2. Grate the ginger and chop the garlic
–It is important to have all of the ingredients ready before starting to cook as the process is quick
3. Heat a dry wok (a heavy frying pan will also work) on medium-high heat. It will be hot enough when water evaporates almost immediately after hitting the pan
4. Pour in the oil, rotating the wok/pan to get all sides coated evenly as you pour
5. Season the oil by tossing in the ginger and garlic for about a minute, making sure to keep it moving around to avoid burning
6. Add the asparagus, onion and chili paste; fry for another 2 minutes, again, keeping everything in motion during the process
7. Add the oyster sauce and cornstarch, continuing to fry for about another minute so the cornstarch thickens the sauce
8. Remove from heat and place into a serving dish
9. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve
*If you are a vegetarian, there are oyster sauces that use a mushroom base depending on how strictly you adhere to the lifestyle.
**Some people tell you to use olive oil in addition to peanut oil, but that can be a mistake. When stir-frying you are using a very high temperature, so you want to make sure to use an oil with a high smoke point. Olive oil has a lower smoke point than both the peanut and sesame oil (the later of which can be substituted if you have an allergy). Using an oil with a low smoke point can lead to the oil itself burning before the food is cooked or fire upon hitting the hot wok (plus, you may need to lower the temperature which would turn this into a saute rather than a stir-fry and change the texture). Using canola oil is also a better option and it’s healthier as well, although it does nothing to enhance the flavor of the dish.
Cookbook author Grace Young answered stir-frying questions for some NY Times readers which you may find helpful as well.