Asparagus in Coconut Cream Sauce

Enjoy asparagus in a velvety coconut sauce with lemongrass and garlic.

Enjoy asparagus in a velvety coconut sauce with lemongrass and garlic.


The countdown is upon us for the impending end of asparagus season.


So there’s no time like now to make this super easy asparagus dish.

“Asparagus in Coconut Cream Sauce” is from the new “Farm to Table Asian Secrets: Vegan & Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season” (Tuttle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by food writer Patricia Tanumihardja, who was born in Indonesia and lived in Singapore before moving to the United States.

The book is full of inspired recipes that showcase the bounty available each season at the market. Try your hand at everything from “Vegetable Soup with Rhubarb” to “Vietnamese  Noodle Salad Bowls” to Tofu, Spinach and Fennel Wontons.” There’s also a helpful guide (with photos) about Asian herbs and pantry ingredients that will aid you in finding them at an Asian or international market.


Asparagus spears are simmered in a sauce of coconut milk, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and chili paste. It’s seasoned with a dash of soy sauce, but fish sauce would also work. As the sauce cooks, it thickens to coat the asparagus spears. Velvety, citrusy and just a little spicy, it’s made for spooning over a mound of fluffy steamed rice.

The recipes are all vegetarian or vegan. Being married to Meat Boy, well, we enjoyed this as a side dish with stir-fried pork rather than a main unto itself.

The recipe says it serves four. But if you’re an asparagus lover like my husband and I, you might very well find it feeds two.

After all, we have to get our fix of asparagus in before it’s too late.

Asparagus in Coconut Cream Sauce

(Serves 2 to 4)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon peeled and grated (preferably young) fresh ginger

1 plump stalk lemongrass, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into thin ovals, or 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon lime zest

2 teaspoons chili paste such as sambal oelek, or chili flakes

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup water

1 pound asparagus (preferably skinny stalks), tough root ends snapped off, cut into 2-inch pieces, tips and stems separated

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce or fish sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice

10 Thai or Italian basil leaves, torn


Swirl the oil in a large wok or skillet and set over medium-high heat. When shimmering hot, add the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass, and fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the chili paste and cook until the chili turns dark red. Pour in the coconut milk and water, and simmer for 1 minute. Add the asparagus stems and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the tips and simmer for another 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the salt, soy sauce, lime juice and basil leaves. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the asparagus is tender. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve with steamed white rice.

Adapted from “Farm to Table Asian Secrets” by Patricia Tanumihardja


Another Recipe From Patricia Tanumihardja To Try: Deep-Fried Tofu Simmered with Tomatoes

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