revised April 2021
Local asparagus are here.
Although supermarkets sell asparagus twelve months of the year, British asparagus is only available for around 4 – 6 weeks at this time of year. The flavour and texture are far superior to South American and African imports. And of course British asparagus wins hands down on the food mile argument!
- When you choose asparagus, they should be firm (not rubbery). Whether the spears are thin or fat, this generally does not matter. For ease of preparation and cooking they should all be of a similar “girth”.
- To prepare, always rinse them first as they are often grown in sandy soil and can be very gritty.
- To see how fibrous the ends are snap a bit of the stem off. If it snaps cleanly, then they are unlikely to be too fibrous. To double check bite the snapped end. If this is even slightly fibrous, peel the ends with a vegetable peeler. Depending on the degree of fibrousness, peel as far as the stem starts to “flower”.
- Ideally asparagus should be steamed or boiled, stem side in water, tips steamed. They always take longer to cook than I imagine they will. After 5 minutes, taste a bit of stem, and then judge timing from then. (If you have boiled them, the water can be used to add flavour to a risotto or soup).
- Asparagus are best served without any fuss – dipped in melted butter, hollandaise sauce or a soft boiled egg. (Try duck eggs!)
- Sage is a great herb to compliment asparagus. Either chop a leaf or two into the melted butter, or shallow fry a few leaves (in sunflower or rapeseed oil, for a few seconds on each side, until translucent but not coloured).
- Soups and rissottos are great for using asparagus which are just past there best.
- Asparagus are lovely in quiches and tortillas.
- Chicken, white fish and ham (not smoked) go well with asparagus.