Mark just finished rereading The Borrowers books by British author Mary Norton, a favorite series of his since his childhood. They are really quite charming.
The concept is that “little people” live amongst "human beans", and borrow from them. Borrow, mind you, not steal. Borrow and transform: spools get used as tables, postage stamps become artwork on the wall, screw top caps make perfect soup kettles. Their frescoed ceiling is the label from a cigar box. Yes, even the Borrowers needed a fresco on their ceiling.
In the cooking world we are all borrowers to some extent. We see a recipe, we borrow it, we change it to make it our own.
Whenever possible I have learned it is important to give credit when and to whom credit is due. I learned the hard way when I was young and passed off a borrowed recipe as mine and was caught by the person who gave it to me. I had made a few changes but I should have known better. It was a hard lesson learned.
Today, I am borrowing from a blog post that I read almost a year ago by Bizzy Lizzy, in which she presented a recipe by Vietnamese chef Luke Nguyen: Wok-seared Asparagus and Asian Mushrooms, from his book Indochine
I immediately fell in love with the idea but knew that I would need to make changes for both my palate and availability of ingredients. So this is Luke Nguyen’s recipe. With Lizzy's suggestions. And then my changes. In other words, it is a Borrower's Delight!
Thank you, Lizzy, for all the wonderful recipes you bring to us from Down Under; I recommend that everyone head over to Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things and see what she's cooking today!
Sautéed Asparagus and Oyster Mushrooms
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons oyster sauce *
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 dried chiltepin or other small dried chile, sliced
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1-inch lengths
12 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms, trimmed and cut into pieces
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
steamed jasmine rice, to serve
Mix fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and water in a small bowl.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil and fry the shallot and chile (gently) for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the asparagus and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the fish sauce and oyster sauce mixture. Toss until the mushrooms are tender, then season with half the sesame seeds and pepper.
Serve over jasmine rice, and sprinkle with remaining toasted sesame seeds.
* If you are serving this to a friend who has allergies to bivalves, or is vegetarian, you can purchase a mushroom-based version of this sauce at many Asian grocery stores.