Pica Limon Asparagus with Caramelized Almonds

I improvised this recipe tonight. The result was an awesome garnish with one of the most difficult to tame flavor combinations: sugar, acid, hot-pepper. You can use any hearty (i.e. stands up to heat) green vegetable like broccoli or long beans.

Ingredients

  1. 3 TBSP Earth Balance (or salted butter)
  1. 1/2 C slivered or sliced almonds
  1. 1/2 lb Asparagus (I use the young thin stalks)
  1. 2-3 TSP Mirin (this is Japanese seasoned rice-wine and is the low-glycemic sugar source in this recipe)
  1. pinch ground cayenne pepper
  1. Juice from half of medium-small lemon

Preparation

Break off any woody parts of the asparagus, rinse and set aside.

Add butter and almonds to a medium-sized skillet and sauté over medium heat for three to four minutes, stirring occasionally without crowding the almonds in the pan. Don't let the almonds "fry" in the butter; the goal is to poach the nuts slowly in the fat. Add cayenne and continue to sauté for another minute or two. Stir in Mirin (it should sizzle as it instantly begins to reduce) and add the asparagus. Constantly stir the contents of the pan with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula for 6-8 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and the almonds are a dark-golden brown. Remove from heat and quickly stir in lemon juice.

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