The four of us sitting at the same table, eating the same meal – on a school night! – is an elusive dream, so that made last night’s stir fry near-perfect, both food and family-wise.

I started off with the idea of spicy albacore kabobs with wild rice, inspired by the plate I’ve had for lunch at the Crow’s Nest, overlooking the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. LL instead suggested stir-fry, which gave me a chance to practice the techniques I recently learned from the book Hot Wok (Hot Books). It was a transcendent meal. Really! Here is what I did:

  • Prep was easy. Cut the albacore (1 pound for the 4 of us) into chunks and toss it with the juice of half a lemon. Mince a small red onion, shred a couple of carrots, and chop a pound of asparagus into inch-long bites and set aside. Mix together about 1 tbsp fish oil and 3 tbsp hoisin sauce and set aside. Crush a half-cup of cashews and set aside.
  • Heat the wok, then toss about 2 tbsp sesame chile oil, 1 tbsp olive oil, a half-teaspoon curry powder, and a couple of dried garlic flakes in to heat.
  • When the garlic starts cooking, add the albacore and cook through, then remove and set aside.
  • Toss the cashews in next, then the red onion and saute until soft and almost caramelized. Add the asparagus next and, when bright green and a bit less crunchy, add the zucchini. Stir together, still over high heat, for a few minutes, then add the sauce mixture, stir again, and add back the albacore. Mix it up and serve immediately with rice. (I used a Lundberg brown rice blend that included a black Japonica grain; it was nutty and aromatic)

Visually, it was beautiful: brown and black rice, green, orange, and purple veg – the albacore was the only pale color on the plate – and I used my Annieglass to add a bit of elegance to our school night meal. Heat and flavor was strong but not overwhelming. Crunchy veggies, just the way I like them. No salt added, all whole grains and fish, so high marks in the healthy meal category. Everyone ate everything on the plate. And although we started the meal with the TV on, we paused the show to talk. Feeling like an enormous success I asked for, and received, a round of applause for the meal.

8/2012 update: I’ve gone and tested and tweaked this recipe a bit. It still stands and a delicious, crunchy, flavorful meal with a nice amount of subtle heat. It’s even faster if you buy a bag of preshredded carrots to toss in. Make this and let me know what you think! Here is a printable version of the recipe for you to take to the store:

Spicy albacore and asparagus stir-fry

Life in a Skillet
This is a quick, healthy, family-friendly entree.
Servings 4 -6


  • 1 pound albacore cut into bite-sized chunks.
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • 2 cups shredded carrot
  • 1 lb asparagus cut into 1-inch long pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup crushed cashews
  • 2 tbsp sesame chili oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic


  • Cut the albacore into bite-sized chunks.
  • Cut the lemon in half. Squeeze the juice over the albacore, toss, and set aside.
  • Next, mix 1 tbsp fish oil with 3 tbsp hoisin sauce and 2 tbsp water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Place wok on your cooktop and turn the heat on high.
  • When wok is hot, pour in 2 tbsp sesame chili oil and 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • When oil is hot, add 1/4 tsp minced garlic. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Add albacore chunks. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp curry powder.
  • Cook albacore through, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Remove the albacore with a slotted spoon to a fresh plate and set aside.
  • Now add red onion to the wok. Cook for 3 minutes or until onion is soft, stirring frequently.
  • Add asparagus and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add carrot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Pour sauce mixture over vegetables. Stir well.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender.
  • Add crushed cashews to the mixture. Stir.
  • Add albacore back into the mixture.
  • Toss one last time and serve immediately.


This is especially delicious served on top of Lundberg brown rice blend that includes a black Japonica grain; it's nutty and aromatic and pairs nicely with the albacore's sweetness.

albacore stir fry