In my previous post (Grilled Beef with Charred Tomato and Chilli Sauce), I wrote about my visit to Sailors Thai where I had the luxury of savouring an array of creative and exotic Thai dishes and was simply enamoured by the overall gastronomic experience. I attempted to make a mental note of how each dish tasted so that I could recreate the same at home if I ever had a craving for it. And so, this post features a very simple recipe for delicious stir-fried vegetables in oyster sauce. In the menu, it was actually stated as "stir fried broccolini and sugar snap peas with oyster sauce", but they looked more like asparagus than broccolini, and so I've used asparagus in my recipe here. How timely it was that Ms AC received a bag of snow peas from her neighbour who just harvested them from the backyard, and she brought some to the office for me!
I decided to ramp up this dish by garnishing it with some crispy garlic chips and crispy dried baby anchovies. Not only do they add texture (crispy on anything is always a good thing!), but also flavour and saltiness from the baby anchovies. You can buy these dried baby anchovies from the Asian supermarket (the one I bought comes from Korea), but they are entirely optional, so feel free to omit them. This is a versatile dish where you can add or substitute with other ingredients like carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, seafood, meat and so on. From there, you can also add kaffir lime leaves, sliced chillies, or perhaps a splash of lemon juice for a little zing. The sauce makes a great base for any stir-fry, and I've kept it simple here, as it was when I tried it at Sailors Thai.
For best results, do use good quality ingredients especially when it comes to the oyster sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee premium oyster sauce - great umami flavours!) and fish sauce (Squid Brand). Also, take care not to overcook or undercook the vegetables, particularly the asparagus.
Snow Peas and Asparagus in Oyster Sauce
3 tbsp dried baby anchovies (optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 3 inch lengths
1 1/2 cups snow peas, topped and tailed, strings removed
Sauce (combined in a bowl):
1 tbsp Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce
1 tbsp Squid brand fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp palm sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp Maggi seasoning (optional)
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and fry the anchovies on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until crispy. Discard the oil and transfer the anchovies to a plate.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and fry the garlic on medium-high heat until lightly golden and crispy. Remove the garlic chips and set aside together with the anchovies above. Leave the oil in the wok.
Heat the wok with the garlic oil on high and fry the asparagus for half a minute. Then add the snow peas and fry for another half minute. Push the vegetables to the side of the wok and pour the sauce in the centre. Bring to a boil and reduce slightly and toss the vegetables in the sauce briefly to coat. Turn off the heat and transfer everything to a serving dish. Garnish with fried garlic chips and crispy baby anchovies. Serve hot with steamed jasmine rice.