once upon a chef

Raw Asparagus Salad with Almonds & Ginger-Sesame Vinaigrette


– 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar – 2 tablespoons vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar – 1 tablespoon soy sauce – 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from 1 lime – 2 teaspoons Asian/toasted sesame oil – 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger – 1 clove garlic, minced – 1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced (see note) – 1½ pounds medium asparagus – 4 scallions, finely sliced (about ½ cup) – ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro – ¼ cup fresh chopped mint – 2 tablespoons sesame seeds – Salt, to taste – ¾ cup sliced almonds

In this springy raw asparagus salad, thinly sliced raw asparagus is tossed with scallions, almonds, fresh herbs, and a spicy Asian-style vinaigrette. It’s cool, crunchy, and a welcome change from the typical roasted or grilled asparagus. Instead of shaving the raw asparagus into long, thin ribbons, as it’s done in restaurants, I slice it on the bias into thin bite-sized pieces; it accomplishes the same thing and is much easier. Serve this salad as a side dish with any Asian-flavored fish, chicken, or steak entrée. Or try adding leftover chunks of salmon, shrimp, or pulled, smoked chicken to make a more substantial dish. The salad is best made a few hours ahead of time, so plan accordingly.

Step #1

Asparagus spears that are medium to large (larger than a half-inch in diameter) are generally more tender than their thinner counterparts. Begin by prepping the asparagus. Snap or cut off the tough ends of each asparagus spear.

Step #2

Cut the asparagus on the bias into very thin slices (about 1/8-in thick), leaving the tips intact.

Step #3

Next, in a mixing bowl large enough to fit all of the ingredients, make the dressing: combine the rice vinegar, vegetable oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and jalapeño.

Step #4

Whisk well then add the sliced asparagus, scallions, cilantro, mint, and sesame seeds to the bowl.

Step #5

Toss well, then taste and adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, stir in the almonds and then taste and adjust seasoning (you will likely need to add more lime or rice vinegar, as the flavors mellow).

Step #6

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and enjoy!