Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ah, Asparagus

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, as is the case with an appetizer from Greensboro's Healthy Spice restaurant.

The Tastic Spa is a tasty dish of asparagus spears, wrapped in vegetarian ham and bound with a strip of nori (the seaweed sheets most often seen wrapped around sushi). As I enjoyed it one evening, it occurred to me that the dish would not be difficult to make at home. On Sunday afternoon, incited by hours spent watching cooking shows on PBS, I got going. It did turn out well, so I thought I would share the details.

If you like it, consider a visit to the source. Although Healthy Spice is not a completely vegetarian restaurant, it does have several good choices for vegetarians and vegans. There's a photo of the Tastic Spa on its Web site here.

These directions make eight – but you can multiply or divide at will. You’ll need:
8 spears of asparagus, with tough ends removed. Steam until tender and set aside to cool.
8 slices of Tofurkey or similar vegetarian “Deli meat.”
8 strips of nori. Use kitchen shears to cut a sheet of nori into strips about a half-inch to an inch wide.

To assemble the dish, have a shallow plate or bowl of water handy. Wrap a slice of Tofurkey around an asparagus spear, so that the top and bottom ends extend above and below the Tofurkey. Then, dip a strip of nori into the water, so is moist but not waterlogged. Finally, wrap the nori strip around the tofurkey to hold it in place. The water will cause it to “stick” to the Tofurkey and to itselt, so your appetizer won't come unwrapped.

That's all there is to it. If you want to dress it up a bit, you can wrap up some baby spinach or small lettuce leaves with the asparagus -- leave them peeking over the top of the Tofurkey to give it a frilly look. Once your dish is assembled, it can be refrigerated and will keep well for a day or two.

To serve, I made a dipping sauce by whisking together:
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp (next time, I may use a bit less) toasted sesame oil
1 tsp mirin (a sweet Japanese rice wine – if you don’t have mirin, you could use a touch of sugar or other sweetener to balance the flavors)
a pinch of wasabi powder (next time, I will use more wasabi to give it more “kick”).

This sauce complemented the asparagus, Tofurkey and nori well. Leftovers made a nice salad dressing, too.


At 10/21/2007 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the sauce that you made.

Last night in my dreams I came up with an asparacus(sp?) dish that I wrapped in ham with boursin cheese.


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