Easy chicken and asparagus stir-fry

Chicken and asparagus stir-fry

This is probably my favourite stir-fry and looks as good as it tastes.  It’s perfect for anyone who doesn’t like their Asian cuisine spicy and is also a great way to get the kids to eat an extra green. If you can find the Thai basil it’s really worth it because it brings an extra aniseed dimension to the dish.  Don’t make the mistake of using Italian basil in its place as they have a very different flavour profile.

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  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb of ginger finely chopped
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 7 ounces / 200g asparagus
  • 10½ ounces / 300g tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of tamari soya sauce
  • ½ teaspoon of Szechuan black pepper
  • Thai basil leaves to garnish


Heat the oil in a wok on a high heat before throwing in the onion, lemongrass, garlic and ginger and stir fry for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken to the wok and stir fry for an additional 6-7 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and has browned.

Add the asparagus, tomatoes, tamari soya sauce and black pepper and stir fry for another 3 minutes.

Serve with the Thai basil leaves as a garnish.


The dish works well on its own or served with rice. If you can’t find the Thai basil, try some mint.  It gives the dish a whole new dimension but complements the flavours far better than Italian basil.



Asparagus pee – tricky subject, but it’s common knowledge that many people produce pungent urine after eating asparagus. The Scottish mathematician and doctor, John Arbuthnot, in 1731 wrote that asparagus gives urine a “foetid smell”, whereas Marcel Proust said it transformed his “humble chamber pot into a bower of aromatic perfume”. There has long been a debate on whether this affects everyone, as some seemed to produce the smell and others not. It was claimed some were unable to detect it by smelling, so they wouldn’t know if they were producers or not. Then in 1956 a team of British scientists carried out laboratory tests and reported that less than 50% were producers of pungent urine. Another British study in 1987, with a much larger sample, reported a similar result, confirming this is a genetic issue. In the USA, however, a 1985 study found that 79% of Americans were producers, while another US study in 2010 but the figure at 92%. This suggests the genetic differences have an ethnic basis. As for detectors, some studies show that only around 10% can actually smell it. But a Chinese study showed 24% could.

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