Stir-fry is one fine standby. With quick chopping, mixing up a simple sauce, then cooking over the highest heat possible, a stir-fry dish dashes to completion well within 40 minutes. And it lends itself to creative variations. Like using leftovers or changing from white rice to black. Or adding the best veggie from the farmers market, such as the now-in-season asparagus. A standby, yes, but certainly not same-old, same-old.

Asian Pork and Asparagus With Black Rice

Makes 8 servings

13/4 cups water

1 cup black or red rice

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 can (14 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon each: honey, corn starch

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 piece (2 inches long) ginger root, finely chopped

6 boneless pork chops, thinly sliced

1 small bunch asparagus, trimmed, sliced into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal

1. Combine water, rice and salt in a saucepan; cover. Heat to a boil; lower heat to a simmer. Cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the broth, soy sauce, honey, cornstarch and sesame oil in a small bowl.


Heat a wok over high heat when rice is almost done. Add the vegetable oil; heat to almost smoking. Add garlic and ginger; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add pork; stir-fry until starting to brown, 2 minutes. Remove to platter. Add asparagus to wok; stir-fry 2 minutes.


Stir the broth mixture; add to wok. Cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Return pork and its juices to wok; stir. Cover; lower heat to medium-low. Cook until pork is done and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Serve over black rice.

Per serving:

262 calories, 18 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fat, 45 milligrams cholesterol, 429 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber