Asparagus with Soy caramel – from Mollie Katzen Heart of the Plate

March 31, 2015 Published by Dina

Once in a while I like cooking with Asian flavours and asparagus lends itself beautifully to Asian flavour profile. One of my favourite recipes was from Barbara Tropp’s book, it was either China Moon or The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking. I no longer have either of these books and a quick peek on Amazon shows they are selling for almost $200 each, likely because they are long out of print. Of course I had both books at Trail’s End. I wish I still had my cookbook library. It’s incomprehensible that it is gone. If any of you have the books and would like to send me the recipe I would be more than grateful. It was a very simple recipe of diagonally cut asparagus tossed with sesame oil and one or two other ingredients.

In the meantime I found an interesting recipe for Asparagus with soy caramel in Mollie Katzen’s book Heart of the Plate.  She drizzles it over asparagus, steamed and then quickly sauteed in oil, garlic and ginger. She suggests using it with other vegetables, grains or Asian style noodles. The recipe makes a small quantity (it’s quite powerful) but that never works in my kitchen so I have doubled it and it keeps fine in the fridge for a few days. I am giving you however the original quantities in the recipe and you can double it if you wish.

So far I have used it with asparagus only but if I try it (successfully) with something else I’ll let you know. Also, I needed to sweeten it a little more with a touch extra agave. Use your judgement and taste buds to create the flavour that suits your palate.



1 bunch asparagus

3 tablespoon peanut oil


1 garlic small clove minced1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, finely minced

Soy caramel:

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup water

1/2 garlic clove

2 slices ginger (slightly larger that the size of a quarter)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice



Soy caramel:

Place the agave syrup, water, ginger and garlic in a small pot and whisk well.

Place over heat and bring to a boil.

Asparagus with soy caramel

Asparagus with soy caramel

Lower heat to a steady simmer and cook until reduced by a third.

Add soy sauce and continue cooking for another 5 minuts.

Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Let steep for 30 minutes, then remove the ginger and garlic.

Use immediately or refrigerate until needed. Bring back to room temperature before using.

To cook the asparagus:

Peel the asparagus about half way up the stem.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add asparagus and cook just until tender.

Remove from heat and drain well and let dry.

Heat peanut oil in a skillet, add garlic and ginger and cook briefly.

Add asparagus and shake the pan to coat the asparagus with the oil

Let it sit a while to absorb the flavours.

Serve warm with a drizzle of soy caramel.


Asparagus with soy caramel

Mollie Katzen Asparagus with soy caramel


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