A quick, attractive dish that is a great way to celebrate springs first asparagus (or you could substitute broccoli, if you like). Brilliant red and green colors make this stir-fry a visual treat while ginger defines its flavor.

SERVES 4

2 tablespoons tamari or other soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

Вј cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 pound asparagus (preferably thin)

Вј cup peanut oil

1 pound firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes and patted very dry

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon water

1 large red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch squares

8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and well drained

1ВЅ recipes Perfect Brown Rice, cooked

1 tablespoonВ Asian sesame oilimage

A few dropsВ hot spicy oilimage or Tabasco

  1. Have all of the ingredients prepared and laid out in front of you. In a small bowl or cup combine the soy sauce, water, rice wine, and cornstarch, and set aside.
  2. Cut off only the very tough bottoms of the asparagus, and with a sharp paring knife peel the bottom half of each one. Cut the asparagus on the diagonal into 2-inch lengths.
  3. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until hot. Add the peanut oil, and when it is hot but not smoking add the tofu. Stir-fry until golden all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the pan to a platter and set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the ginger. Cook for 15 seconds. Add the asparagus and toss, then add 1 tablespoon of water. Cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until the asparagus is almost tender (this will depend on the thickness of the stalks).
  5. Remove the cover and add the red pepper and water chestnuts. Stir-fry uncovered for 3 minutes.
  6. Return the tofu to the pan and toss. Quickly stir the soy sauce mixture and add. Toss and cook 1 minute.
  7. Turn off the heat and sprinkle on the sesame oil and hot spicy oil. Serve immediately over rice.