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Marko Tsourkan
05-25-2013, 05:43 PM
Would like to add asparagus to my go-to vegetables along with kale and spinach. Would appreciate some guidance, i.e. how to select, how to cook, what sauces could be served with, etc.

Thanks,

M

mzer
05-25-2013, 06:00 PM
The bad news is that asparagus season is on its last vapors. The good news is that you have about ten months to collect recipes ;).

That points to one of the selection issues. Asparagus is very, very seasonal. Out of season asparagus is not good other than to look like asparagus. Otherwise, you want the fattest spears you can get because young, vigorous plants produce fatter spears and because the meat to skin ratio is highest. You also want closed tops because they are a sign of freshness.

sachem allison
05-25-2013, 06:01 PM
you want firm smooth stalks, No wrinkles or slimy heads. Take the asparagus and hold in the middle and on the fat stem side and gently bend wherever, it snaps is the tender part and the other part is tough and fibrous. Use the tough fibrous part to make creamy asparagus soup. If the asparagus is thick blanch in salted water for a minute max, if pencil thin use as is. I like mine on the grill tossed with olive oil salt and pepper or baked in the oven with some parmesan or pecorino. I like asparagus, caramelized onion and proscuitto pizza and asparagus in my omelets. or sauteed with just a hint of brown butter.

wilburh
05-25-2013, 06:07 PM
Rather than make a sauce, sizzle some fine "soft" bread crumbs in a bit of butter until golden - lightly drizzle melted butter over steamed asparagus and sprinkle the crumbs around. Easy to over sprinkle. More is not better in this case.

Hard to beat hollandaise.....

scotchef38
05-25-2013, 06:16 PM
The flavour molecules of Asparagus are water soluble so avoid boiling/blanching them to provide maximum taste.They are good very slowlypoached in olive oil and a clove of garlic.Also very nice raw and thinly shaved with a speed peeler.Eggs and Asparagus are a classic marriage.Wrap in Proscuitto and char grill.Tempura.

Marko Tsourkan
05-25-2013, 06:18 PM
Already learned something, thanks folks.

Would you recommend to get a dedicated pot for steaming asparagus, or is it an overkill?

sachem allison
05-25-2013, 06:23 PM
you don't need one of those. Those pots originated from back in the day when people would boil the hell out of them and they became so soft that you needed a basket to get them out. It won't hurt , just not necessary to spend money on.

Salty dog
05-25-2013, 06:27 PM
Asparagus for planting is a root structure. You'll find them bare-root and dry at the beginning of the season. The older the roots the better. Just google for planting instructions.
I added 40 plants this spring.
We're still in full season here.

Pensacola Tiger
05-25-2013, 07:30 PM
I tried this recipe tonight and it's great:

Asparagus with Bits of Bacon
http://tastingspoons.com/archives/10261

http://tastingspoons.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/asparagus_bits_of_bacon.jpg

EdipisReks
05-25-2013, 08:24 PM
there is an episode of Good Eats about asparagus, and it's helpful.

apicius9
05-25-2013, 08:37 PM
The main problem is that you don't even get the 'real' asparagus here: nothing better than thick and juicy pieces of white asparagus with butter, pepper and a nice salt, boiled new potatoes and maybe a little Schnitzel. When in Germany, I used to start putting money into a piggy bank in January so that I could splurge through asparagus season...

Stefan

EdipisReks
05-25-2013, 08:44 PM
The main problem is that you don't even get the 'real' asparagus here: nothing better than thick and juicy pieces of white asparagus with butter, pepper and a nice salt, boiled new potatoes and maybe a little Schnitzel. When in Germany, I used to start putting money into a piggy bank in January so that I could splurge through asparagus season...

Stefan

plenty of what you describe is available in Ohio, at least.

Lucretia
05-25-2013, 09:35 PM
Blanched, chilled asparagus, diced & mixed with diced tomatoes and vinagrette. Topped with smoked salmon (or grilled chicken or crab or...) Don't usually advocate microwave cooking, but was in a hurry and blanched some in the microwave the other day and it came out very nice--brought a pan of water to a boil in the microwave, dumped in the asparagus, nuked 2 or 3 minutes more, then into ice water.

We snap ours like Son described. I also like to use a vegetable peeler to clean up the stem. After snapping and peeling, I put them in a bowl and cover them with water until ready to use--it crisps them up a bit.

Can also cook in the oven--rub a piece of foil with olive oil, put your cleaned asparagus on the foil, seal up tight, and toss it in a 400 degree F oven. Cook until desired doneness. It will be pretty soft at 20 minutes.

Good with butter & salt, butter & lemon, hollandaise, salad dressing, just about everything.

Excellent as tempura.

Sauteed in butter with or without other veggies and put into an omelette or scramble.

apicius9
05-25-2013, 10:00 PM
plenty of what you describe is available in Ohio, at least.

Have to put Ohio on the 'potential places to move to' - list, no white Sparagus out here as a norm, and the one time I saw some it was at least a week old.

Stefan

cnochef
05-25-2013, 10:43 PM
I make a delicious "cream" of asparagus soup that serves 4 as a soup course:

I start by sweating 1 medium sweet onion and 1 bunch of fresh asparagus cut into coins in 4 tbsp. of unsalted butter with salt, a pinch of white pepper and a healthy splash of good quality sauvignon blanc until asparagus is al dente. Next I combine this with 1.5 cups of leftover mashed potatoes (a fine natural thickener), 2 cups of chicken stock and .5 cup of soft goat cheese and blend until smooth in my Vitamix. After blending, I heat to serve in a 4 qt. sauce pan. Meanwhile, I render 4 slices of julienned prosciutto in a saute pan for a tasty garnish.

EdipisReks
05-25-2013, 10:45 PM
Have to put Ohio on the 'potential places to move to' - list, no white Sparagus out here as a norm, and the one time I saw some it was at least a week old.

Stefan

i'm not sure good white asparagus is worth it being hotter than hell most of the year with 90+% humidity...

mhlee
05-25-2013, 11:35 PM
I recommend checking the bottom of any asparagus you're thinking of buying. The moister they are, the more recently they've been cut. I also try and feel the bottom inch or so; if it feels tough and fibrous, it was likely cut a while ago. And, as Son recommended, look at the tips. Don't buy any tips that are slimy, or soft - look for tips that are solid. (You can also cut the bottom inch plus or so, then peel the outer layer of the lower portion of asparagus until you get past the tougher, fibrous outer area and use the remainder. You may still have a little fibrous portion of the base, but you'll also have more usable product.)

As for thickness, I prefer thicker spears now because my favorite way of cooking them is on the grill (brushed with a little oil and salt and pepper, and over direct heat until just sightly charred), or in a hot cast iron pan with the same preparation. Thinner spears tend to wilt too much when cooking at such high heat.

And, instead of a dedicated asparagus cooking pot, I get a pot of salted, boiling water going, hold the bunch of asparagus by the tips, and then submerge the bottom portion (two inches or so) of the bunch in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then drop the entire stalks into the pot. That way, I get the stem partially cooked before cooking the delicate tips.

marc4pt0
05-26-2013, 12:16 AM
Thicker asparagus are what I've come to prefer. It's best to peel them, their skins being a bit fibrous and tannic can distract from their sweeter side. Eggs, as mentioned before have a natural affinity with asparagus. A few years ago I was fooling around with black garlic, which has a faint hint of anise to it. So I went old school and made a black garlic tarragon compound butter. This compound butter by itself had a familiar asparagus flavor to it so I gave it a shot. Best combo I've had with asparagus in quite sometime. Grill, steam, blanch sauteed- all great with the butter.
And don't be alarmed if you smell something funny when using the restroom! Asparagus's dirty little secret. :biggrin:

knyfeknerd
05-26-2013, 12:54 AM
Asparagus make my peepee smell funny!
It always surprises you. Just one tiny bit, and then when it's time for a #1. you're like "oohoo that smell".........

sachem allison
05-26-2013, 12:56 AM
You are an interesting fellow, I think I shall replace you with a trained chimp. We like boring here. Good day, sir.

panda
05-26-2013, 02:38 AM
look for medium thickness, very firm, ZERO slime anywhere, pinch with tips of index and thumb up from the stem until you reach a squishy part, that's where you cut off the nasty bit.
grilled with flaky salt and fresh cracked pink peppercorns, toss with finely minced garlic and nice thick green olive oil.

as easy as that, and they taste delicious! if you must get more going on with it: slivered almonds, a light drizzle of worcestershire, fried red onions, breadcrumbs, fresh grated parm then thrown in the broiler for 2 mins.

stopbarking
05-26-2013, 04:39 AM
Blanch, saute with butter, plate, meyer lemon zest and juice, sunny side up egg, pimenton, pecorino romano, maldon and black pepper

Lord knows how many times I've done that pickup. Simple and delicious.

mr drinky
05-26-2013, 08:30 AM
You are an interesting fellow, I think I shall replace you with a trained chimp. We like boring here. Good day, sir.

I once read that it was genetic, and that some people's urine doesn't smell after eating asparagus. I'm not sure. All I know is it is petty bad.

I just picked up a 3-pound bag at a farmers market. Most of the stems were big and fat. Eat the thin ones raw. It's like a fresh green pea.

As for Stefan's elusive German asparagus, for a few years I used to be in Vienna, Austria in the spring, and it was so nice to get that thick white asparagus. The first time I experienced it, there seemed to be an excitement in the restaurant. Everybody was eating it and if you didn't order it, I think the waitress would have been shocked. I'm having a German over today, so I will have to see how the Minnesota green asparagus measures up to the white in her book.

k.

SpikeC
05-26-2013, 03:10 PM
Lighty steamed, then wraped in prociutto and fried till a bit crispy, then drizzled with a basalmic reduction.

kpeddie2010
05-26-2013, 03:22 PM
gruyere mornay then baked and the crusted with a herb panko and then thrown under the salamander to get a nice brown crust. thus producing a asparagus gratin of mornay and herb panko. dont forget to oil the panko or u wont get a even browning of the crust

Craig
05-28-2013, 12:40 PM
I prefer the slender asparagus. Not so much because it's necessarily better, but because I find that the awful, flavourless asparagus you can get year-round tends to be thick and some stores will still carry the garbage when the good stuff is available. So I find thinner is safer. I suppose the real moral is fresher is better, but I find going thin is a good test of that where I am. This is for a chain grocery store, mind you. In a farmers market or something I wouldn't pay attention to that.

cookinstuff
05-28-2013, 02:54 PM
I had a great dish of pickled white asparagus with a miso sauce and some sort of dried chili powder sprinkled on it. Was really good. We get really big fat white asparagus up here in Canada, but it doesn't last long, so we use it like crazy while we can.

Sambal
05-28-2013, 09:46 PM
Best asparagus I've had by far are the white ones. Berlin a few years ago. I've been told that they're white because they haven't peeped through the soil yet. Is this true?

cnochef
05-28-2013, 10:39 PM
Best asparagus I've had by far are the white ones. Berlin a few years ago. I've been told that they're white because they haven't peeped through the soil yet. Is this true?

No, they are grown with tarps over them so they don't have any exposure to the sun. Therefore, no photosynthesis reactions nor green color.

tk59
05-29-2013, 01:36 AM
+1 to Son's post. I like to roast them in the oven or grill with just a little something: pepper, salt, a little pecorino... I had it this way today, as a matter of fact. Just be careful not to overdo it on the cooking. It's easy to turn asparagus into drab-colored mush. Use relatively high temp and low time.