Thai Stir-Fried Asparagus with Lemongrass

Thai Stir-Fried Asparagus with Lemongrass recipe by

The extreme swings of spring in Minnesota – from jogging in a T-shirt two days ago to now watching through my bedroom window as the heavy snow falls under the street light – remind me of home in Penang when suddenly this time of year, where there once was a sidewalk, transforms overnight into a carpet of fragrant, yellow flowers.

Because as quickly as the bright golden-yellow flowers explode on the giant Angsana trees around the island, they have already fallen, transforming paths and streets into yellow brick roads. But not all signs of spring in Penang – an island where time stands still under a year-round blazing sun – are as unmistakable and striking. A walk through the Botanic Gardens reveals the subtlety of a tropical spring with a hint of fresher, more fragrant air.  And a morning stroll through the market with the appearance of Penang durian at the fruit stalls, and tender asparagus I can’t resist bringing back to my kitchen.

penang botanic gardens

High in fiber, and rich in folacin – a vitamin necessary for blood cell formation and growth, and prevention of liver disease – asparagus are more than just a seasonal vegetable. These green shoots are incredibly healthy, and found in cuisines around the world because of their versatility to match with a wide variety of spices & herbs.

Spring fresh asparagus on

As in a simple recipe of steamed asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Or in Southeast Asian recipes like spicy Malaysian sambal asparagus with pounded chili peppers and belacan, or in this Thai Stir-Fried Asparagus with the delicate balance of fresh lemongrass and coconut milk. 

Slices of freshly chopped lemongrass on

The citrus scent of lemongrass with the creamy taste of coconut milk, make this stir-fried asparagus dish distinctively Thai. That’s the base to explore from.  Try tossing in other vegetables, like radishes, carrots, bean sprouts, or tomatoes; shrimp for substance; and for a little more flavor, Thai spices like our galangal powder and bird’s eye chili powder. Two spices that match well with lemongrass and coconut milk, and a combination you’ll find in so many wonderful Thai dishes.

Thai Stir-Fried Asparagus with Lemongrass is a delectable, tropical way to savor the springtime harvest.

Thai Stir-Fried Asparagus with Lemongrass recipe by

buy lemon grass powder, kaffir lime leaf powder and thai galangal powder from season with spice shop

Thai Stir-Fried Asparagus with Lemongrass 
by Season with Spice

10-12 asparagus - snapped into 2 inch length pieces
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 stalks lemongrass - outer leaves removed and ends trimmed off, then remaining stalk chopped finely
2 cloves garlic - peeled and chopped finely
3 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp water
About 1/4-1/2 cup of diced red bell pepper
1 Thai bird’s eye chili pepper, halved (or a dash of Season with Spice's Bird's Eye Chili Powder)
2 tsp fish sauce (omit for a vegetarian version)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp of Season with Spice's Galangal Powder
Dashes of Season with Spice's White Pepper Powder
Red serrano chilies - deseeded and thinly sliced for garnish
A squeeze of lime juice, optional

1. In a frying pan or a wok, heat oil, then sauté lemongrass and garlic until aromatic.
2. Add in the harder pieces of asparagus first (the lower parts of the stalk), and stir-fry for about one minute. Then add in the rest of the asparagus, and the coconut milk, water, bell pepper, fish sauce, and Thai bird’s eye chili (if using). Stir and toss to make sure the asparagus cooks evenly. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat.
3. Season with salt and galangal powder. Stir and let simmer for two minutes or until asparagus spears are tender (test by cutting through one  – it should be easy to cut, but still crunchy).  Add in a bit more water/coconut milk if you like it to be more saucy. Taste and adjust any seasonings.
4. Dish out, sprinkle with some ground white pepper, squeeze in lime juice, and garnish with slices of red serrano chili. Serve hot with steamed rice.

*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).