I think there are two teams when it comes to asparagus – those who are a fan! and those who just think it’s an odd vegetable with weird after-effects;) – uh-hmmm – the strange odor in your pee caused by asparagine, a diuretic compound found in asparagus.
Either way – it’s a sure sign of spring – and seeing them on this month’s Bon Appetit made me salivate:) The way it peeks up from the ground, some being reported to grow as much as ten inches a day! And it’s certainly a cool vegetable to look at; vibrant green or white (those that doesn’t see the sun) and sexy. Sexy? Oh – come on! You didn’t think it looked a bit phallic? You know what’s funny? It’s one of the oldest vegetables (think reptiles age) with distinctive male and female plants. Get this – Sooooo – the Male asparagus spears are skinny (lol…) and the Female asparagus are plump & fleshy (yup – that’s right~;) ) Its nutritional value are that it’s an ayurvedic root for boosting female hormones, promoting fertility (so sorta like aphrodisiac) and relieving cramps, is an anticarcinogenic veggie and is even used to help with gout. So eat up and welcome spring onto your plates~!
Since I don’t have an asparagus steamer (who likes it so much that they need a steamer just for that?) – I used twine to tie together some fat female asparagus (that sounds funny, eh?) so that I can steam them in my pasta pot.
With the fatties – it’s important to use your vegetable peeler to peel the outer layer to rid of the fibrous outer layer (just the non-spear side). Otherwise – for the skinny (male) asparagus – hold the spear with one hand, bend it with the other hand until it naturally breaks off to ensure that you’re not gnawing on some fibrous woody stem.
You can simply steam them as I did here – or roast them in the oven for a sweeter and nuttier flavor. Either way – be sure not too cook it too long or it’ll all be a limpy mess.
To steam – tie fresh asparagus (after peeling part of the stalk and washing it gently) in twine. Drop into a steamer with the fat non-spear side down so that the the part that needs to cook the longest hits the heat first. Steam for 3 1/2 to 4 min max. Take out and cool.
For a simple drizzle – brown little butter by letting ~2-3 tbsp of unsalted butter boil gently on a saucepan until you start to see brown specs at the bottom. Add some sliced fresh garlic and lemon juice and drizzle over asparagus.
Here – served with some osso bucco~
Asparagus goes well with butter, cheese, eggs, lemon/lime, olive oil, salt and pepper. Great tossed into a salad or a pasta dish, easy easy side dish. Personally – because of the earthy “green” flavor of asparagus, I think it helps to add some acid (eg., lemon, vinegar, etc) to wake up the taste. You could also intensify the flavor by sauteeing it with something else earthy, umami…like shiitaki mushrooms for instance or tomatoes.
One of my favorite way is to cut it in bite size pieces, steam it, and then toss it with some korean hot pepper paste vinaigrette. For a bundle of asparagus spears, 1 tbsp gochujang (hot korean pepper paste), 1 tsp evap cane juice or agave (to taste), 1 tsp white vinegar, 1 tsp minced fresh garlic, 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds. Awesome with a hot bowl of rice~
Would love to hear about how you like to eat asparagus…do share!
made with 2 tbsp of love; love for food, love for life.