This recipe is a template for how to stir-fry vegetables with hard, medium-hard, and soft textures. “Hard” carrots are cut into 1/4-inch-thick julienne pieces so that they cook quickly. Blanching the “medium-hard” asparagus enables it to be stir-fried together with the shiitake mushrooms and “soft” cherry tomatoes. This is a dish I like to make in the spring when asparagus comes into season. I prefer using grape tomatoes because they have more flavor than regular tomatoes that time of the year. You can substitute button mushrooms for the shiitakes.
12 ounces medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup julienned carrots
8 medium fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps quartered (about 4 ounces)
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
In a 2-quart saucepan bring 3 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring, 1 minute or until the asparagus is bright green and the water has almost returned to a boil. Drain the asparagus in a colander, shaking well to remove excess water. In a small bowl combine the rice wine, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil, add the shallot, ginger, and garlic, and stir-fry 10 seconds or until the aromatics are fragrant. Add the asparagus, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms and stir-fry 1 minute or until the mushrooms begin to wilt. Add the tomatoes, sprinkle on the sugar and salt, swirl the rice wine mixture into the wok, and stir-fry 1 minute or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.