Did you know the peak season for asparagus is April to June? Look for bright green stalks that are firm with tight tips. I enjoy this delicious and healthy spring vegetable in any form.
Here, I used them in a traditional Korean dish called sanjeok. It is a variety of jeok – skewered meat and vegetables. Some jeok varieties are egg-battered, but sanjeok is not. Depending on the ingredients used, they are called gogi (beef) sanjeok, tteok (rice cake) sanjeok, songi (mushrooms) sanjeok, pa (scallions) sanjeok, etc. They are traditionally served on holidays and special occasions.
Growing up in Korea, my parents always made gogi (beef or pork only) sanjeok for those special days. It was always my father’s job to thread the meat onto the skewers – he took the job very seriously to make sure all the pieces were the same length and lined up evenly on the skewer.
Today, this dish is enjoyed casually any time of the year. As with any skewered/kebab dish, you can have fun with it by mixing up different meats and vegetables.
2 – 3 servings
9 asparagus stalks (at least medium thickness for easier threading)
1/2 pound lean beef (tenderloin, sirloin, rib eye)
4 King mushrooms (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine
2 -3 teaspoons sesame oil for each vegetable
salt and pepper to taste
sesame seeds or chopped pine nuts for garnish
6 skewers (4 to 5-inch long)
Cut the beef into 1/4-inch thick and 5-inch long strips to create about 12 pieces. Combine with the seasoning and marinate for about 30 minutes. (Cut the beef and mushrooms longer than asparagus, by about an inch, because they will shrink more.)
Remove the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut into about 4-inch lengths. Blanch them in salted boiling water just to soften, about a minute. (This will keep them from breaking when threading.) Shock in cold water and drain. Cut the mushrooms lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick and 5-inch long strips. Rub each vegetable with the sesame oil and sprinkle salt and pepper.
Thread the meat and vegetables onto the skewers.
Heat a large pan with a little bit of oil (1 teaspoon) over medium high heat. Place the skewers in the pan. Cook each side until the meat and vegetables are cooked through and slightly caramelized, 2 – 3 minutes each side.
If you are interested in trying more recipes with asparagus, consider the following: