Peppery garlic asparagus stir fry

Yep, it’s asparagus season!

And after a visit to the local Farmers’ Market I had enough asparagus to just get creative with - which is really what I love to do with food: get great ingredients and then just have fun, playing around and trying out new ideas.

First I made a Thai soup with coconut milk, a tom kha - I’ve usually had this with chicken or seafood, but I made it with asparagus and really liked it.

Next up this peppery, garlic stir fry.

In my head I’d wanted fresh green peppercorns but I was definitely too lazy to go out and get the bus up to the Thai supermarket to buy some, so I tried a mix of black, and pink peppercorns (that I had whole and ground) and some white pepper (ready ground).

I’ve since made it again with just white pepper to see what it was like, and it was still good.

Quantities are kind of vague (as they often are!) but here’s what I used to make this super simple peppery asparagus stir fry.

A teaspoon of cooking oil - sunflower, rapeseed or grapeseed will be best

Just over a teaspoon of ground peppercorns - your choice as to what you use but on the first occasion I used a mix of black, pink and white and on the second just white pepper on its own

1 garlic clove, minced

1 red chilli, diced finely (the chilli is optional and when I made this a second time I didn’t put one in and probably preferred it without - instead I had the asparagus as a side dish with a spicy chicken stir fry and rice)

A handful of asparagus spears - I LOVE how when you bed the asparagus it just KNOWS where the right place is to snap off - woody stalk snapped off and sliced

2-3 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Fresh coriander leaves, chopped (if liked - if not just leave out)

Put a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and swirl to cover the pan.

Add the pepper and garlic (and chilli if using) and cook for 20-30 seconds, stirring all the time, until it smells good. Add a splash of water if it looks like it’s going to stick or burn - it needs to keep moving.

Rachel Redlaw peppery garlic asparagus
Rachel Redlaw peppery garlic asparagus

Then tip in the sliced asparagus and stir to cover with the lovely oily peppery garlicky mixture and then add the water, fish sauce and sugar.

Do adjust the amount of water if you’d like more of a sauce or if at any point in the cooking time it looks like it’s run out of water and is going to stick.

Cover and simmer for about four minutes until the asparagus is cooked but still has a crunch - or to your liking of course. If you prefer it softer, cook it a little longer.

Add the coriander leaves if using and stir to mix it all together.

Rachel Redlaw peppery garlic asparagus
Rachel Redlaw peppery garlic asparagus

Serve on its own with rice for a delicious light lunch or supper, or have alongside other dishes in a multi-dish meal.

Rachel Redlaw peppery garlic asparagus
Rachel Redlaw peppery garlic asparagus


Tom kha - Thai coconut soup with asparagus

It’s asparagus season so get ready for a GLUT (ok maybe two or three) asparagus recipes from me… starting with this lovely coconut soup.

This is enough for one, or for two if you’re making it as part of a multi-dish meal.

If you’re serving this with rice, make the rice first and leave it to keep warm and fluffy while you make the soup.

Take a good handful of asparagus spears and snap the woody ends off.

I love that you can’t really judge where the right point would be to cut them off but instead just bend them back and where they naturally want to snap is of course is the exact right place for them to snap (I feel there’s a life lesson in here somewhere too).

Slice the asparagus spears into smaller lengths and put into a bowl with about a quarter of a white onion and a few mushrooms, washed and chopped.

So far, our ingredients have been:

8 or so asparagus stalks

1/4 white onion

3-4 mushrooms

And we’ll also need:

1 red birds eye chilli, diced

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into slices

1 stalk of lemongrass, outer woody layers removed, the bottom and top inch or so cut off and then sliced into rounds

a few kaffir lime leaves, torn from the stalk and then torn again into smaller pieces

half a tin of coconut cream plus half a tin of water (or use coconut milk)

four cherry tomatoes, halved (or a couple of larger tomatoes, cut into chunks)

a pinch of sugar

a dash of fish sauce

a handful of coriander leaves, chopped

half a lime


Get the chilli, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves together so it’s ready to add to the soup and then put the coconut cream and water into a pan and gently bring to a simmer.

I think it’s good to be gentle with the coconut milk mixture so let it breathe and take its time.

When it’s just about simmering, add the aromatics (the chilli, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves), stir and again just wait until it comes back to that almost-simmer.

Then tip in the vegetables, stir and bring to a proper gentle simmer - and cook for five minutes.

Add the tomatoes, sugar and fish sauce and stir and cook on a gentle simmer for another five minutes.


Taste and check if you want to add any more sugar or fish sauce and if it tastes good add the fresh coriander and squeeze in the juice of half a lime, stir and simmer for another minute.

Ladle into a bowl and serve with some rice.

I’ll leave you with a question …

Do you add your soup to the rice or the rice to your soup?!