Close this search box.

Prawn, macadamia & asparagus stir-fry from The Joy of Better Cooking

Servings: 4
What I love most about this stir-fry is how quickly everything comes together. By the time you’ve rinsed your jasmine rice and got it cooking away, the prawns will have ‘velveted’ (a technique that brings the bounce factor to everything from seafood to sizzling beef ), and the rest of the ingredients will be ready to roll. If asparagus isn’t in season, I’ve popped some suggestions in the Subs on the next page. The prawns can be replaced by other seafood, or even firm tofu. It’s the kind of dish you’ll have memorised and added to your repertoire in no time. A real winner.


  • 250 g (9 oz) peeled raw prawn (shrimp) tails (see Subs)
  • ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda baking soda
  • 1 generous thumb-sized knob fresh ginger peeled
  • 2-3 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce see Subs
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cornflour cornstarch
  • ½ cup (125 ml) water, plus an extra ½ cup (125 ml) water on standby
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 bunches of asparagus cut into 5 cm (2 inch) lengths (see Subs)
  • 6 spring onions scallions, white and green bits cut into 5 cm (2 inch) lengths, plus extra thinly sliced spring onion to serve
  • 1 cup (150 g) roasted macadamias (see Subs)
  • steamed jasmine rice to serve


  • To ‘velvet’ the prawns, slice the tails in half through the centre and massage the bicarbonate of soda into the flesh, then leave to rest for 15 minutes. Sounds weird, I know, but go with me here.
  • Finely grate half the ginger and all the garlic. Slice the other ginger half into rough chunks and reserve.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the grated ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, cornflour and ½ cup (125 ml) water until combined.
  • Set aside as your stir-fry sauce.
  • Rinse the prawns thoroughly in a colander and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan until very hot. Add the prawn meat and stir-fry for 30–60 seconds, or until it just changes colour; remove from the wok and set aside. Wipe out the wok with paper towel and reheat the remaining oil.
  • Boil a kettle. Pop the asparagus and spring onion into a colander and into the sink, then pour boiled water over them. Drain well, then add to the hot wok and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  • Give your stir-fry sauce another whisk to reincorporate everything, then pour it into the hot wok and bring to the boil. Toss the prawns and nuts through. The sauce should be silky and glossy, which will happen almost instantly. If you find the liquid gets absorbed way too fast, splash in another ½ cup (125 ml) water and allow this to incorporate, too. Taste for seasoning.
  • Serve topped with extra spring onion, with bowls of steamed jasmine rice, and add this to the weekly rotation.


I’ve left the veg quite generous in length, to give them an elegant drape when cooked, and to help render them an easier pick-up with chopsticks. If you’ve toddlers in the hizzle, slice the veg into 2 cm (3/4 inch) pieces instead.
For a juicier sauce, add an extra splash of water once the sauce starts to bubble, if you feel it could use it.
Asparagus is so seasonal, but this is the kind of stir-fry you’re going to want to make all year round, so for any time that isn’t spring, use baby broccoli (broccolini) or even broccoli florets chopped into fork-sized bits instead. Snow peas (mange tout) would be fantastic here, too.
No macadamias? Use cashews. If using raw nuts, toast them in a dry pan until golden and pull out before cooking the prawns.
For a nut-free alternative, you could try tinned water chestnuts, rinsed and chopped into chunks.
Go fully plant-based by subbing the oyster sauce out for mushroom sauce (Megachef is my favourite brand for this) and the prawns for firm or even extra-firm tofu. This doesn’t need to be silkened, just boiled as a whole block (out of the pack) for 2 minutes or so, drained of liquid, chopped, pre-seasoned with plenty of soy sauce and other spices of choice, then tossed with cornflour (cornstarch) to coat each cube before searing as you would the prawns.

Sign up for regular recipes