In honor of the Laos farmers who have given up centuries old opium-producing poppy fields for new asparagus and tea plantation farms, I present this fresh take on the raw vegetable flavors and seasonings that the country enjoys.
Laos Asparagus Salad
2 cups mung bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
1 pound asparagus
Kosher salt to taste
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts, chopped
2 Tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted
1. Prepare large bowl of ice water and set aside.
2. Boil 6 quarts of water.
3. Snap asparagus stalks at the end to remove woody portion.
4. Drop asparagus in small batches into boiling water. When it turns bright green, remove immediately to ice water bath to stop cooking process, then transfer to colander to drain. Repeat until all asparagus has been cooked and salted to taste.
5. In small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients.
6. Combine vegetables in salad bowl, cover with dressing and toss to coat.
7. Serve on chilled salad plates sprinkled with peanuts and black sesame seeds.
Substitution Note: If mung bean sprouts aren’t to your liking, substitute scallion greens. You can cut asparagus into bite-sized chunks. Or, using a chef’s knife, cut cooked asparagus into decorative, crispy slivers like I have in this salad. You choose!