Here is a quick and easy asparagus chicken stir-fry recipe that is worth including in your regular dinner rotation. It is easy to prepare, a balanced meal by itself, and cooked with only the commonly available seasoning in the kitchen pantry,
Although asparagus is not the most common vegetable in Chinese cooking, the cooking method is the same as any stir-fry dish in the typical Chinese family.
I use chicken thigh meat because it tastes better than breast meat for stir-frying. All you need is to marinate the chicken with some light soy sauce and other standard seasonings and stir-fry with the asparagus. The result is best with a well-seasoned cast iron wok to bring out the wok aroma. A heavy bottom skillet or a large frying pan is equally suitable for stir-frying if you don’t have a good wok.
I also suggest using peanut oil or palm oil instead of olive oil or butter to get the authentic Asian taste.
Let’s get started.
How to prepare asparagus chicken stir-fry
I will break down the recipe into a few steps, which I will explain in detail.
1. Marinate the chicken
My preferred chicken meat is chicken thigh fillet, as it has more fat content and is more forgiving if overcooked. However, if you use chicken breast meat, note that you should not overcook it as its texture will become tough.
Remove the skin if you use chicken thigh fillet. Cut the meat into bite-size, about one-inch length, then place it in a mixing bowl.
Ingredients for the marinade
I use a set of typical ingredients for Cantonese cooking to marinate the chicken. These ingredients are also suitable to use for pork and beef for other similar stir-fry dishes.
- Light soy sauce is the main ingredient to provide a savory flavor. I skip the dark soy sauce to avoid the color turning too dark after searing in the wok.
- Besides that, I also include some sesame oil in the marinade, which is relatively standard for Cantonese food.
- I also use some salt and pepper to season the meat. Although white pepper is generally used in Chinese cooling, it tastes better using freshly ground black pepper.
- It is also helpful to add half a teaspoon of cornstarch to the chicken. The amount should not be too much, as the intention is not to coat the chicken to form a crust during stir-frying. Instead, it is to bind the liquid seasonings to the chicken. The chicken meat will tend to stick to the wok/pan surface if there is too much starch in the marinade.
Let the chicken marinate for about an hour before stir-frying.
2. Cut and peel the asparagus
Here are the steps to prepare the asparagus for stir-frying:
- First, wash the asparagus under running water, then dry them with a kitchen towel.
- Snap the asparagus into two by holding the wooden end that is near the base with both hands. When you bend it, it will snap at a natural point where the tough and the tender part of the stem meet. Otherwise, you can eyeball the spot and cut it with your knife.
- Remove the outer layer of the stem, which is fibrous, with a vegetable peeler. This method will remove the tough surface, leaving the tender stem for cooking. I also use the same way to remove the fibrous surface of vegetables such as choy sum and gai lan for stir-frying.
- Cut the asparagus into two inches length sections. Short sections are easier to stir-fry in the wok than the whole asparagus.
- Separate the stems and the spears, as the stem needs a longer time to cook.
3. Brown the chicken over low heat
I prefer to brown the chicken separately to get a nice color before combining it with the asparagus. It is a more effective way to develop the flavor without the presence of asparagus. Furthermore, chicken needs a longer time to cook than asparagus.
- Place a teaspoon of vegetable oil in the wok. I use a well-seasoned wok and therefore do not need plenty of oil to avoid the chicken from sticking onto the surface while browning.
- Heat the oil to moderately hot, then add the chicken, followed by a few quick stirs to mix it with the oil.
- Turn the heat to medium-low, and spread the chicken meat into a single layer to let it sear until golden on one side.
- Flip over the brown on the other side.
- Once done, remove the browned chicken, and leave the remaining oil in the wok to cook the asparagus.
4. Stir-fry the asparagus and chicken
The remaining oil in the wok with chicken flavor is perfect to stir-fry the asparagus. However, you may need to add some oil should it is not enough.
- Add a teaspoon of chopped garlic and saute until aromatic. You can also add two to three thin slices of ginger at this point if you like ginger.
- Once it turns fragrant, add the asparagus. First, add the stem part to stir fry for a minute, then include the spears, which take a shorter time to cook.
- You need to use high heat and keep the ingredients relatively dry to generate the wok aroma. The wok should have minimal water during the whole process to ensure it is done at a high temperature during the entire process. My method is to add a tablespoon of water each time to keep the wok at high heat and let it sizzle until the end. This simple technique is quite important to cook good stir-fry dishes.
- Try to avoid cooking the asparagus for too long as it will lose the bright green color. The best way is to pick one to do a taste test after stir-frying for one and a half minutes.
- Once the asparagus is tender, return the cooked chicken to the wok. Have a few quick stirs and flips over high heat, and dish out immediately. There is no need to use cornstarch slurry since there is no sauce or gravy to be thickened.
This recipe is highly adaptive, which means you can replace the asparagus, chicken, and seasonings with other ingredients. Here are some suggestions.
- Use pork instead of chicken. My favorite replacement is using thinly sliced pork loin. If you use beef, I suggest adding some scallion and ginger to saute with the garlic.
- Besides asparagus, snap peas, and French beans are also suitable to cook with the same method.
- Lastly, you can substitute the Cantonese-style seasoning with sake, mirin, and Japanese soy sauce, plus a teaspoon of sugar to turn it into teriyaki flavor.
Related recipes to asparagus chicken stir-fry
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Ingredients A (marinate the chicken)
- 200g chicken thigh meat, cut into one-inch length
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 300g asparagus, weight before cut and trim
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp chopped garlic
- 1/4 salt
- Dash of ground black pepper
- Mix ingredients in A. Marinate for one hour.
- Snap off the woody part of the asparagus stem. Peel off the fibrous surface.
- Cut the asparagus into 2-inch sections.
- Heat some oil in the wok. Stir fry the chicken for half a minute, then spread out into a single layer to sear until golden. Flip over to sear the other side. Remove.
- Saute the chopped garlic with the remaining oil.
- Add the asparagus stem and stir fry for a minute. Add a tablespoon of water each time when it becomes too dry.
- Add the asparagus spears and continue stir-frying for half a minute.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Return the cooked chicken and stir fry over high heat for twenty seconds.
- Dish out and serve.
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Lodge 14 Inch Cast Iron Wok. Pre-Seasoned Wok with Flattened Bottom for Asian Stir Fry and Sautees
EXTRA LARGE Organic Bamboo Cutting Board with Juice Groove - Kitchen Chopping Board for Meat (Butcher Block) Cheese and Vegetables | Anti Microbial Heavy Duty Serving Tray w/Handles - 18 x 12"
OXO 21081 Good Grips Y Peeler, Black
ORBLUE Garlic Press [Premium], Stainless Steel Mincer, Crusher & Peeler Set - Professional Grade, Easy Clean, Dishwasher Safe & Rust-proof
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 743mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 28g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 8/21/2021