Asparagus Rolls with Pork is a very quick and simple dish, perfect as a starter as well as a side. They are flavoured in not-so-sweet teriyaki sauce to give a Japanese touch to the dish.
You often encounter asparagus wrapped in prosciutto or bacon in Western dishes. But the Japanese version of wrapped asparagus uses thinly sliced pork.
Pork Slices Suitable to Wrap Asparagus
You will need a strip of very thinly sliced pork to wrap each asparagus spear. The most commonly used sliced pork is pork loin. It has some width and sufficient length to wrap the asparagus around. Pork loin is also not very fatty which is a bonus for those who are conscious of fat intake.
The other part of pork meat commonly used for this dish is thinly sliced pork belly. It looks almost like wrapping the asparagus with a streak of bacon. But of course, the pork belly is thinner than bacon and you’d have to add flavour to it after cooking.
Each slice of pork needs to have an adequate width and sufficient length to be able to wrap the asparagus from end to end. I used pork loin and the size of each slice was about 6cm/2⅜” wide and 15cm/6″ long. If you are using pork belly slices, you will need slightly longer strips, say 20cm/8″, as the pork belly slices are narrower than pork loin slices.
In Australia, thinly sliced pork is not sold at supermarkets but it is sold at Japanese/Asian grocery stores, mostly frozen. In the case of pork loin slices, it might be sold as shabu-shabu pork. The thickness of the slice is about 2mm/1/16″.
If you don’t have access to thinly sliced pork, you can slice a block of meat by semi-freezing the meat, which makes it easier to slice. If sliced too thick, pound it to make it thinner.
How to Roll an Asparagus with a Slice of Pork
There are different ways of wrapping asparagus with pork. You can wrap a whole asparagus spear with 1-2 slices of pork or halve an asparagus spear and make short ones.
The wrapping style can also vary. Some recipes wrap asparagus only in the centre, leaving both ends of asparagus uncovered. Or, you can wrap the entire asparagus like my recipe.
I made short asparagus rolls by cutting each asparagus spear in half. My asparagus spears were very thin (about 1cm/⅜” in diameter), so I used two halved asparagus sticks to make one roll. If your asparagus spear is thick, you need only one stick per roll.
Since the shape of a pork loin slice is narrow and long, you will need to wrap the asparagus diagonally to cover it with pork end-to-end. See the step-by-step photo below.
Flavouring for Asparagus Rolls with Pork
Once asparagus spears are rolled in pork, simply sauté them. You can just add salt and pepper to give flavour to them. I tried it with salt and pepper and it was great.
But today I wanted to give them a taste of Japan, so I combined equal portions of soy sauce, sake and mirin to make a sauce. It is very similar to the teriyaki sauce that I used in my Teriyaki Chicken recipe but no sugar is added this time. It’s a simple formula to remember!
After the pork around the asparagus is cooked, add the sauce and coat the asparagus roll with the sauce.
This is a great asparagus appetiser and it’s so easy to make. Asparagus Rolls with Pork can also be served as a side dish. I usually make it when I feel like I need a bit more protein in the meal.
PS: I added a new section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card. It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you!
Asparagus Rolls with Pork is a very quick and simple dish, perfect as a starter as well as a side. Teriyaki sauce makes it a Japanese-style asparagus roll.
- 9 thin asparagus spears (about 125g/4.4oz, note 1)
- 9 very thin pork slices (note 2)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sake
- Decorative cucumber – opposing cut (note 3)
Combine flavouring sauce ingredients in a jar or a small bowl.
Remove hard part of the asparagus stem at lower end and cut to half equal length.
Boil water in a pan, add a pinch of salt and blanch asparagus for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drain and cool down.
On a cutting board, spread a slice of pork diagonally, then place the top half and the bottom half of asparagus pieces (note 1) at the end of the pork slice closest to you. Ensure the side edge of the pork slice lines up with the edge of the asparagus sticks.
Lift the end of the pork slice closest to you and roll the asparagus tightly away from you. Keep rolling until the end, adjusting the angle of the pork slice so that the pork just covers the end of the asparagus sticks.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the rest of asparagus sticks.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high heat and place asparagus wrapped in pork, facing the ending side of the pork down.
Sauté for about 1 minute until the bottom part of the pork is lightly browned (note 4). Turn them over and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute until the pork is lightly browned.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the flavouring sauce.
Roll the asparagus to coat them with the sauce while the sauce is bubbling and condensing. When the sauce is almost evaporated, remove the pan from the heat.
Serve with decorative cucumber pieces if using.
1. My asparagus was very thin (about 1cm/⅜" in diameter) so I used two sticks to make a roll. If your asparagus is thick, use one stick per roll.
2. My bunch of asparagus had 9 spears, hence I made 9 rolls. Adjust the number of slices required based on number of spears you use.
9 slices of pork loin weighed 125g/4.4oz and the amount of sauce is just right for the amount of pork.
You can buy frozen thinly sliced pork at HApanese/Asian grocery stores. They might be sold as shabu-shabu pork.
3. How to make opposing cut cucumber (違い切り, chigai-giri).
You can make this using a Japanese cucumber or Lebanese cucumber, which are about 2.5cm/1" in diameter.
(1) Cut cucumber into a 4cm long drum. Place the cucumber drum horizontally.
(2) Point a knife in the middle on your side of the cucumber and push it through to the other side in the centre.
(3) Slide the knife horizontally to one end of the cucumber, leaving 1cm uncut at the end.
(4) Remove the knife, turn the direction of the blade around. Put the knife through the incision and cut the other half of the cucumber, leaving 1cm uncut at the end. You should have a horizontal incision in the centre of the cucumber.
(5) Cut the cucumber from the top down diagonally only half way, ensuring that the starting point of the diagonal cut matches with the end of the incision made earlier.
(6) Turn the cucumber over and cut the other side of the cucumber diagonally in the same way.
(7) Pull two parts of cucumber apart to make two chigai-giri cucumber.
4. Time to cook through the pork depends on the thickness of the pork around the asparagus. Since the pork slice is very thin and you only wrap two layers of pork around, it shouldn’t take long to cook through.
5. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 103g calories: 140kcal fat: 8.2g (13%) saturated fat: 1g (5%) Trans fat: 0.1g polyunsaturated fat: 1.1g monounsaturated fat: 4.1g cholesterol: 27mg (9%) sodium: 314mg (13%) potassium: 258mg (7%) carbohydrates: 4.4g (1%) dietary fibre: 0.9g (4%) sugar: 3g protein: 10g vitamin a: 6.3% vitamin c: 3.9% calcium: 1.2% iron: 6.7%