Asparagus with Pancetta and Leeks

4 ounces pancetta, cut into 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch dice
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
1 1/4 cups leek, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped (more to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large non-stick pan, sauté pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan. Add asparagus pieces and leek and sauté until asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

Add garlic, lemon and orange zest, toasted pine nuts and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.

Grilled Apricots (or Plums, Peaches, or Pears) with Burrata, Country Ham, and Arugula

1 1/4 pounds apricots, halved and pitted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
5 ounces baby arugula
1/2 pound burrata cheese, shredded
4 ounces shaved country ham 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the apricots with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, cut sides down, just until lightly charred, 5 minutes. Let cool.

In a bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the 1/4 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. Gently toss in the apricots, radicchio and arugula. Transfer to a platter and top with the burrata, ham and vinegar. Serve.

Strawberry Summer Cake (Sheet Pan Variation)

9 tablespoons (125 grams) unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) plus 3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (175 ml) milk, whole is preferred but all varieties have worked
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) vanilla extract
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) of the freshest, even a touch overripe, strawberries, hulled and halved

Heat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Lightly coat the sides and corners of a 9×13-inch cake pan with butter or nonstick spray, and fit the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat butter, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and beat until combined. Add milk and mix until smooth. Sprinkle baking powder evenly over batter and beat into batter for 20 seconds longer than will seem necessary — this ensures it’s perfectly distributed. Scrape down the bowl. Add flour and beat or stir until just combined.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Arrange strawberries cut side down, as snugly as you can get them to fit. If you have extra, nudge them in anyway. Leave no strawberries behind. Sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar — it will seem like a lot but helps the strawberries get jammy and gives the cake a great texture.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out free of wet batter (gooey strawberries are a given and doesn’t mean it’s underbaked) — about 45 to 48 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into squares and serve as is, or with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if you’re Deb.

Do ahead: Cake even better half- to a full day later, when the strawberries marry with better with the cake. I like to leave the cake uncovered at room temperature so it doesn’t get sticky on top.

Strawberry Summer Cake

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. (This cake does not work in a standard 9-inch pie pan; it will overflow.)

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.

In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

Do ahead: Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, but good luck with that.

Notes:
The batter can be dropped to 2 tablespoons less sugar (i.e. 7/8 cup sugar instead of a whole one). But the sugar on top. It contributes to the berries turning into jam.

Sweet and Sour Beets

2 – 3 large beets, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tbs Smoked Maple Syrup plus more to drizzle
2 tbs cider vinegar
1 whole star anise
Salt and pepper
1 tb butter
2 tbs chopped chives

Put the peeled, sliced beets in a wide, shallow pan and add the orange juice, garlic, maple syrup, vinegar, star anise and sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Turn on high to bring to a boil then lower to simmer and cover. Let the beets braise for 10 minutes or until tender, turning every so often to coat with the liquid.

When they are done, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a serving plate. Add a pat of butter to the remaining sauce, simmer until thickened and season to taste. Pour the sauce over the beets, sprinkle with the chives and then drizzle with a little extra Smoked maple if desired.

Beet, Arugula, Citrus, and Feta Salad with Ginger-Maple Vinaigrette

2 – 3 beets
Bunch of arugula
1 navel orange, peeled and sectioned
2 oz feta cheese

Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp Runamok Ginger Infused Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp walnut oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Prepare the beets by scrubbing off any dirt and trimming the tops and bottoms but leaving the rest of the skin on. Put them in boiling water for about ten minutes or until fork tender then remove from the water to cool. The skins should come off very easily at this point and once they are peeled, dice them into chunks and set aside.

Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking all of the ingredients together and tasting for salt and pepper.

Toss the arugula and beets in some vinaigrette and arrange on a plate. Top with bite-sized pieces of orange and a sprinkling of crumbled feta.

Bengali Phulkopir Aloo Dalna (Cauliflower, Potatoes, and Peas)

420 gms Cauliflower florets
280 gms potato boiled and cut to chunks
60 gms frozen green peas
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch of asafoetida/ hing
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
4 green cardamom pods
1 dried mild red
1 heaped tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp caster sugar
Salt to taste
100 mls water
1/4 tsp garam masala powder

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan. Add the asafoetida along with all the whole spices. Fry for a minute on low heat. Add the ginger paste and fry for a few seconds.

Now add the chilli powder and turmeric powder along with the cauliflower florets. Mix well and sauté the florets for 2-3 minutes.

Add the sugar, season to taste and add water. Stir well and cook with a lid on for 10 minutes. Now stir and add the potato continue cooking for 5 minutes with a lid on.

Add the green peas and simmer for a minute. Turn the heat off and add garam masala. Stir well and serve warm with paratha or rice.

Asparagus, Pea, and Egg Masala

Oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, finely chopped
Green chilies – 2, sliced
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Tomato – 1 large, chopped
Asparagus – 1/2 lb, cut into 1? long pieces
Green peas – 1/2 cup
Salt – to taste
Lime juice – 2 tsp
Cilantro leaves – a few stalks, roughly torn
Eggs – 4, large
How to:

Boil and peel the eggs and set aside.

Heat oil in a deep skillet or pan and add the cumin seeds. When they start to change color, throw in the onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Saute till onions are translucent, but not browned.

Add the turmeric, red chili, coriander, cumin and garam masala powders. Stir around for a few seconds till well combined.
Add the tomatoes and cook till they are broken down and mushy. Then add the asparagus and green peas. Sprinkle some water, add salt, cover and cook till vegetables are tender-crisp.

Open the lid, sprinkle some lime juice and cilantro leaves to garnish. Fold in the boiled egg halves. Serve hot with steamed rice or flatbreads like chapatis and rotis.

Tandoori/Tikka Gobi (Cauliflower Bites)

For the tandoori/tikka gobi,

Cauliflower – 1 large head, washed and cut into medium-sized florets
Yogurt – 1 1/2 cups (must be thick yogurt)
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp (reduce for a less spicy version)
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Amchoor or dry mango powder – 1/4 tsp (simply omit if you don’t have any)
Chickpea flour or besan – 2 tbsp
Lime – 1 small one, juiced
Cilantro leaves – a large handful, chopped
Salt – to taste
Oil – to brush while baking
For the spicy yogurt dip,

Leftover marinade from above – 1 cup
Water and salt – as needed
How to:

Tandoori/Tikka Cauliflower: In a large saucepan, bring some water to a boil. Season with a touch of salt, add cauliflower and cook on low heat for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow the cauliflower to remain submerged in the hot water for 8-10 minutes or till they are just tender. Drain completely and set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly roast the chickpea flour in a hot skillet for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the while.

Take all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl (listed from yogurt to salt in the list above). Whisk well, ensuring there are no lumps. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add cauliflower to it and mix well to coat them thoroughly. Let it rest for at least half an hour. You may want to refrigerate it for any duration longer than that.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg.F and place a grilling rack over a rimmed baking tray. Arrange the cauliflower florets on it, shaking off excess marinade, and brush lightly with oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or till cooked thoroughly.. You can also broil them at 450 deg.F for the last 1-2 minutes of baking for lightly charred edges.

Remove from oven and serve warm with lime wedges and your favorite dip.

Spicy yogurt dip: You will have at least a cup of leftover marinade from above. Cook this in a skillet over medium heat, till the raw smell goes away and it turns thick with a deep red-brown color. Add some water to it, whisk well and bring it to a boil. Simmer till it reaches a dip-like consistency. Check seasoning, you may want to add a pinch of salt or dash of lime juice to balance the flavors.

Cool this completely and serve with the tandoori or tikka cauliflower. This can be done on the stove-top while the cauliflower florets are baking and it cools down by the time it is ready to be served.

Green Bean Poriyal (with variations)

Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – a few, roughly torn
Shallots – 2 tbsp, chopped (can also use red onions)
Whole dried red chilies – 3-4
Green beans – 1 lb, washed and diced into 1/4? pieces (very short!)
Shredded coconut – 1/4 cup
Salt – to taste

Heat oil in a deep skillet or pan. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. When they start to sizzle and crackle, add the onions and red chilies. Saute till onions are lightly golden.

Then add the chopped green beans and stir fry for a minute or so. Sprinkle some water and salt, reduce heat to low, cook and cover till beans are just cooked.

Open the lid, fold in the shredded or grated coconut and saute for a few more seconds to make sure there is no residual water in the pan.

Remove from heat and serve hot along with rice and sambar or dal.

Notes:

You can add 1/2 tbsp of urad dal (or dehusked black lentils) along with the mustard seeds and fry them till they just begin to change color. You can also add a pinch of turmeric and coriander powders along with the salt, but we actually prefer to have thoran without it.

You can cook vegetables like carrots, beetroot, cabbage, long beans and gourds the same way. You can also try combinations like carrots-beans, cabbage-carrots-beans or asparagus-green peas. Try it for yourself and see!

Sambar with Kohlrabi

1 large or 4 small kohlrabi, skin removed and chopped into cubes (~1 cup), leaves chopped
1 cup masoor dal (red lentil)
6 cups water
2 tablespoons sambar powder (MTR brand is good if you don’t have homemade)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoons frozen fresh coconut (optional)
salt to taste

For tempering oil:
2 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)
pinch of asafetida or hing
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
4 fresh curry leaves (fresh or dried)
1 dried red chili (broken into pieces by hand)
1/2 red onion

Wash masoor dal until water is clear, drain and set aside.

Add drained lentil and 6 cups of water to pot. Bring to a boil under medium/high heat and then leave at medium heat. Ladle out any foam that comes to the surface. Once foam stops, add turmeric and kohlrabi pieces and mix up. The dal and vegetables take about 30 minutes to cook. The lentils should be fallen apart and the kohlrabi should be soft. At this point, add in the kohlrabi leaves.

Add sambar powder and mix well. Simmer for 5 minutes. Should get a golden-like residue forming on the surface. Add salt to your taste, tamarind and coconut and mix well. Make sure the tamarind is completely dissolved. You can also at this time, add more water depending on your preference of thickness. Cook for a few more minutes. Turn off heat.

In a separate small pan, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil and put in asafetida and black mustard seeds. Wait for the seeds to pop a bit. To help this happen, you can put a lid over the pan. Once its popped for a few seconds, turn the heat down a little and put the curry leaves and broken up chilis. Coat the leaves and chili with the oil and fry for a few seconds. Add in the chopped onions and fry for 10 minutes on low heat. The onions should be translucent and give off a nice fragrance. Pour this mixture over the lentils and vegetables and mix well.

You can serve with rice and some yogurt on the side.

Red Currant Chitranna

1 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup red currants, few more for garnish
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon oil + 1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup raw peanuts
pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 dried red chili, broken in two (alternative is chopped green chilis which adds more spice)
4 fresh curry leaves
juice of 1 lemon
handful frozen fresh grated coconut, thawed
cilantro for garnish
salt

Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on stove with water and turmeric mixed in. To make the rice not stick I sometimes add a little oil. Set cooked rice aside.

In a small pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil and put in peanuts under medium heat. Fry peanuts until they are fragrant and turn golden brown. Put peanuts aside. (They will get crunchier as they sit out.)

In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil under medium heat. To test the oil is hot put in a couple mustard seeds and they should start sizzling. Then add the rest of the mustard seeds and hing. Shake up the pot and cover (this is so the mustard seeds don’t pop out of the pan and burn you!) Once they pop for a few seconds, add the dried red chili and curry leaves (rub leaves between your hands a little before putting in pan to release oils). Coat them with oil and fry for a few seconds. Add the rice into the wok and mix well. Fry for a few minutes.

Turn the heat off and mix in the lemon juice and coconut. Gently mix in the peanuts, red currants and salt to your taste. Garnish with cilantro, few more currants and serve with yogurt raita.

Rainbow Chard and Lentils

1 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
4-5 cups water
2 tablespoons mustard oil
1-2 green scallions, chopped
1 bunch rainbow or swiss chard, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika (deggi mirch), or to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon

Rinse dal thoroughly using a fine-meshed sieve. Place in a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Skim foam off the top until it no longer appears. Add turmeric powder and mix well. Simmer dal on medium-low, partly covered for 35-40 minutes or until dal is falling apart. Add additional water for desired consistency. Add salt to taste. If you like a smoother consistency, blend dal with an immersion blender.

In a frying pan over medium heat, add in mustard oil. When oil starts to shimmer, add in cumin seeds and nigella seeds. When the cumin seeds start to brown, add in the coriander powder and paprika. Stir the spices around well in the oil until they are aromatic, a few seconds. Quickly add in the cut scallions (reserving a few green pieces for garnish) and sautee until softened, 1 minute. Next add in the cut rainbow chard and salt to taste. Sautee until chard leaves start to wilt. Turn off stove and pour the sauteed leaves and onions onto the dal. Mix in lemon juice. Taste for sourness and add more lemon juice accordingly. Garnish with remaining cut scallions.

Serve over rice with yogurt and Brooklyn Delhi achaar.

Beet Rasam

1/2 cup red lentils
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
pinch of asafetida (hing)
1/2 red onion, sliced in half circles
1 beet, peeled & diced
2 teaspoons rasam powder
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
parsley or cilantro leaves, chopped
salt to taste

Wash lentils thoroughly, using a fine-meshed colander.

Add lentils to a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Stay by the stove monitoring the foaming as your pot could quickly boil over if you are not watching. Skim off foam. Mix in turmeric powder. Turn the flame to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for about 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Mix in salt to taste and optionally mash down cooked lentils with a spoon.

While lentils are cooking, heat sunflower oil in a saucepan on medium heat. When oil is hot, add in cumin seeds and asafetida. When the cumin seeds turn a darker shade of brown, add in cut onions. Stir fry until translucent. Add in diced beets and salt. Stir-fry the beets for 30 seconds. Next, add enough water to cover the beets by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer beets until cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Add the cooked lentils to the cooked beets. Add 1-2 cups of water and rasam powder. The consistency should be a thin soup with the lentils on the bottom. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5-6 minutes. Turn off heat and add lemon juice to taste. Add more salt to taste and mix in parsley or cilantro leaves.

Serve plain or over rice with yogurt and hot pickle.

Green Pea Socca

1 cup green pea flour
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
6 tablespoons olive oil + a little extra to brush
1 cup water, at room temperature
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced into rings
1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves + a little extra for garnish
1 teaspoon lunu miris or harissa
2 tablespoons asiago cheese, shredded

In a medium sized mixing bowl, add all the ingredients from the green pea flour to the black pepper. Dry whisk to combine. Then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the water. Whisk to combine to form a smooth slurry. There should be no visible lumps in the batter. Taste the batter and adjust the salt if necessary. Wrap the bowl with cling film or a lid and leave in the refrigerator overnight (maximum up to 48hours). (See notes above)

The next day, place a wire rack on the upper-second level of the oven. Preheat to 450F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch cast iron pan or oven-safe skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil just starts to smoke, add the shallots and sauté until they brown. This will take around 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Fold the harissa, the lemon thyme leaves, and the browned shallots into the refrigerated pea flour batter using a silicone spatula. Coat the same cast-iron skillet with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Pour the batter on the pan and place it in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown and the bread begins to release from the sides of the pan.

At this point, carefully remove the pan from the oven and brush the surface very lightly with extra olive oil. Sprinkle the asiago cheese over the surface of the socca. Return the pan to the oven and broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is starts to melt and just golden brown on the edges.

Remove the pan from the oven and using a silicone spatula remove the socca by sliding the spatula underneath the sides of the bread. Score and cut the socca into wedges (any size you desire) or strips. Garnish with a little extra lemon thyme if desired and serve warm.

Blueberry Ice Cream

Ingredients

2 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp water
2 cups cream

Put berries and sugar and water in a pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved and blueberries soft and mushy. Take off heat and let cool to room temperature. Use hand mixer to blend until smooth.

Add in cream and stir.

Cover and chill til very cold and pour mixture into your ice cream machine and follow machine instructions.

Cauliflower Stir Fry

1 small head Cauliflower, or 1/2 large head
2-3 Tbsp peanut oil
2 slices of ginger
1/4 Tsp sea salt
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup of spring onion, cut to rounds
1 Tbsp of sesame oil

You can see from the ingredient list that it is quite specific. This very simple dish has few factors, therefore the taste quality of each factor becomes important.

Wash and cut cauliflower into florets. Shake as much water as you can from the cauliflower.

Heat wok at medium high until it starts smoking, add oil and swirl to coat wok. Right away add ginger slices and stir briefly to infuse ginger essence into oil.

Add cauliflower (Careful here!: There will be a loud hissing and spitting of oil as any water left on the cauliflower hits the hot oil. Just tip the bowl containing cauliflower into the wok facing away from you and watch out for that spitting oil) and stir to coat all the cauliflower florets with oil.

Add salt. Keep stirring until the florets start to show some brown spots (about 2 minutes), turn down the heat to medium low, add the chicken stock and cover, stirring occassionally.

Let simmer for 2-3 minutes or until only a 1/4 cup of stock is left in wok (this will be the sauce). The cauliflower should be soft, not crisp.

Add spring onions, give everything a toss and turn off the heat. Add sesame oil, mix and serve.

Stir-Fried Beef and Asparagus

8 oz beef cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons oil
1 clove garlic minced
6 oz asparagus cut into long strips
One small red bell pepper cut into long strips

Marinade:
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 heavy dashes ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce or oyster sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Sauce:
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon black/dark soy sauce for coloring purpose
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt

Marinate the beef with all ingredients in the Marinade, for 15 minutes.

Combine all the ingredients in the Sauce, stir and mix well, set aside.

Heat up a wok and add 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is fully heated, add the beef and do a few quick stirs, until the surface turns opaque and slightly charred. Transfer out and set aside.

Clean the wok and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is fully heated, add the garlic and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the asparagus stir a few times before adding the beef back into the wok.

Add the Sauce and stir to combine well. Stir in the bell pepper and dish out to serve

Shrimp (or Scallop) and Asparagus Sambal

12 oz. asparagus
4 oz. scallops or medium-size shrimps
1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons sambal paste if you like spicy, use 2 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce or to taste
1 teaspoon belacan breaks into small bits
2 tablespoons oil

Sambal (Chili Paste) Recipe:
20 dried chilies seeded and soaked to soften
10 fresh red chilies seeded and sliced
8 shallots peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
6 tablespoons cooking oil

Rinse the asparagus with water. Chop off 1 inch to 1.5 inches off the stems (depending on the toughness of the stems) and slice the stems into half. Cut the rest of the asparagus into 2-inch lengths. Set aside.

Heat up the wok with oil. Add the sambal (recipe below) and belacan. Stir well until you start smelling the pungent aroma of belacan. Add in scallops/shrimps and do a quick stir and then follow by the asparagus. Add fish sauce, sugar, and continue to stir fry until asparagus is cooked through (don’t overcook it). Dish out and serve hot.

Sambal (Chili Paste) Recipe:
Use a mortar and pestle to pound the sambal ingredients or use a mini food processor to blend well. Heat up a wok with oil. As soon as the oil is heated, transfer the sambal paste into the wok and stir-fry continuously for a few minutes or until you smell the heat from the sambal or the oil separates from the sambal. Dish out and set aside. Refrigerated for future use.

Recipe Notes
Traditionally, sambal is prepared fresh–or bought ready made from the wet market in Malaysia. It’s then used immediately to cook the dish. In the US, I always make my sambal into a chili paste so I can keep it in the refrigerator and use it on the go. I also use more dried chilies to make the sambal paste lasts longer in the refrigerator. The fresh chilies give a nice red color as dried red chilies look duller in color. I will show you the traditional way of making sambal from scratch and the proper method of making it soon!

Stir-Fried Chicken and Asparagus

8 oz chicken breast cut into cubes
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 lb asparagus bottom stems trimmed
Sauce:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
4 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce

Mix the chicken with cornstarch. Mix all the ingredients for the Sauce in a small bowl, stir to combine well. Set both aside.

Heat up a skillet with the oil. Saute the garlic until aromatic. Add the chicken and stir-fry back and forth until the surface turns opaque. Add the asparagus and continue to stir-fry, for about 1 minute. Add the Sauce into the skillet. As soon as it thickens, dish out and serve immediately.