Vintage Chinese Food, Part 2

Dear Constant Reader,

Yesterday I wrote about making Cashew Chicken from a cookbook published by nuns in the mid-50’s. Today’s recipe is Asparagus Peking Style.

In this case I made the recipe almost exactly as writ, with one big exception. It called for a can of asparagus and I just can’t do that, even in the spirit of tasting history. I had to use fresh asparagus. Sorry to all those purists out there.


Asparagus, sherry*, soy sauce, corn starch, chicken broth, and oil. I remembered to put the oil in this picture!

Since the recipe called for canned asparagus and I was using fresh, I had to do a little prep work before I could get started. I snapped the tough ends of the asparagus (it’s fun!) and blanched them. Some people advocate blanching the asparagus standing up, but I think that takes way too much time and water. I like to throw them in a little boiling water in a big skillet, presumably the same one they’re going to get cooked in later, to save on dish washing. After a few minutes the asparagus turns bright green and is tender. Don’t let it overcook. Drain the asparagus and run some cold water over it to stop the cooking process.

Then mix up the oil, broth, some water, sherry, soy sauce, and cornstarch in the pan and bring to a boil. When it’s bubbling away, toss in the asparagus and cook until it’s hot. The sauce will be really thick, bordering on gloppy. Serve.

That’s it!

And here’s the recipe with measurements and stuff.

Asparagus Peking Style (Lung Hsu Ts’ai)
2 Tablespoons oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sherry
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 lb. asparagus

Prepare asparagus by snapping off tough lower stems. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for a few minutes until the stems are bright green and tender. Drain asparagus and set aside. This can be done in advance. Or you could just use canned asparagus, like the original recipe.

Heat pan and add all ingredients except asparagus. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Add asparagus and heat through.

Serves about 4.

And here’s the whole meal: Cashew Chicken, Asparagus Peking Style, and brown rice. This picture doesn’t show the beauty of my zebrawood chopsticks**.

M2

*In the last missive I decided not to use cream sherry because it was so sweet and instead used rice wine vinegar. A few minutes later I changed my mind, thinking that it was likely that cream sherry was the sort that your average 1950’s housewife had on hand and that was the target audience for this cookbook.

**I need a food stylist. And a better camera.

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Published in: on 20 August 2013 at 9:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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