Stir Fried Asparagus with Sambal Belacan

Sambal Asparagus recipe by

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Mark brushing his teeth with sambal belacan. Not an image I want to see, so to feed his spicy addiction, I try to cook up his favorite Malaysian side dish a few times a week – Stir Fried Asparagus with Sambal Belacan.

But for a little bit of variety, I also use the quintessential Malaysian spice paste to cook all sorts of local greens - water spinach (known as ‘kangkong’ in Malay), lady fingers (okra), winged beans, sweet potato leaves and so on. 

Sambal Asparagus recipe by

With a base of sambal, you just need to apply the simple technique of stir-frying for a lip-smacking vegetable dish.

Crank the fire up, stir and toss the vegetables with a good mix of garlic, oil, and sambal.  Be sure to keep a close eye on the wok; timing is absolutely crucial. Asparagus takes a bit longer to cook than leafy greens, but you want to avoid overcooking so your asparagus is tender and crisp.

To make it even better, try adding prawns to the combo of asparagus and fiery homemade sambal, for an absolutely luscious dish!

Sambal Asparagus recipe by

Sambal Belacan Asparagus recipe by Season with Spice

10 large asparagus, snapped into 2 inch length pieces*
2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 tbsp sambal belacan (you can get the recipe here)
6 small to medium prawns, optional
1/8 tsp salt or to taste
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil

1. Heat oil in a wok or frying pan. Once oil is heated, turn the fire down to medium-low.
2. Toss in garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Adjust the fire to low if needed as you want to infuse the garlic in oil without burning it.
3. Add sambal belacan. Turn up the fire to medium and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add prawns. Cook until the prawns turn slightly pink (half cooked).
5. Finally, add in the asparagus and continue to stir-fry on medium heat. Start adding one or two tablespoon of water. Turn up the heat to high. Stir and toss to make sure the asparagus cooks evenly. Add two more tablespoon of water for more liquid. Add salt and stir occasionally. Asparagus should take about 5 - 7 minutess to cook. Test by using your spatula to cut through one of the spears. It should be easy to cut but still crunchy.
6. Serve hot with rice. Sometimes I add a squeeze of lime juice over it.

*Tip: Snapping Asparagus
Starting at the tip of the asparagus, bend the stem and snap off about a 2 inch length piece (a fresh asparagus should snap easily). Keep snapping off 2 inch pieces until you come to the resistance point where it is too fibrous to snap. Discard the fibrous ends of the asparagus (or you can peel the fibrous part and add it to a soup).