Snap peas or bok choy would be good substitutions for the asparagus. I added mushrooms in this version as well but those are entirely optional in this quick, savory dish.
1 tablespoon oil
3 cloves garlic or 2 stalks green garlic, minced and divided
6-8 cremini mushrooms, halved and then sliced crosswise (optional, see headnote)
1 lb ground beef
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off and cut into bite-sized pieces or 1 pint snap peas, cut, trimmed and cut in half or thirds
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons fresh grated or minced ginger
2 teaspoons gochujang or other red chili paste
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional) briefly toasted in a dry skillet until golden
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Rice, for serving
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add half the garlic and mushrooms, if using, and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the ground beef and break it up and mix well with garlic and mushrooms, if using. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until beef is almost cooked. Spread the asparagus or peas over the meat, cover and steam for 2 minutes.
Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, remaining garlic, ginger, water and chili paste in a small bowl. Stir it into the beef/asparagus and cook, uncovered for 2 more minutes or until asparagus is just tender and juices have thickened a little. Serve hot, over rice garnished with scallions and sesame seeds.