"To test the freshness of each white asparagus, gently press the bottom of each spear between the thumb and forefinger: a little water will emerge in the freshest spears," says chef Wolfgang Ranner, group executive chef of Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant.
While these earthy stalks are on the menu of most restaurants right now, chef Ranner shares that white asparagus can be bought at specialty food grocers and cooking them at home is no intimidating feat. Here, he shares a simple recipe for a classic German version.
1kg Holland potatoes
6g Table salt
100g Unsalted butter
10g Chopped fresh Italian parsley
Boil potatoes in water. Peel and quarter them. Sauté in a pan with butter and salt.
Remove and serve with chopped parsley sprinkled on top.
100g Unsalted butter (melted, keep warm)
Pinch of Table salt
Pinch of White pepper
2 Egg yolks
100ml White wine
20mg Chopped shallots
5 Black peppercorns
1 Bay leaf
1. Place the white wine, chopped shallots, black peppercorns and bay leaf into a pot and simmer till liquid has reduced. Remove from heat, strain and keep warm.
2. Place a large mixing bowl over a bain-marie and whisk egg yolks until foamy. Pour in the white wine reduction and continue whisking until well-combined.
3. Add in the melted butter, whisking continuously over the bain marie until sauce is thick and creamy. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Poached white asparagus
1kg Fresh white asparagus
1 tbsp Table salt
½ tbsp White sugar
½ Fresh lemon
1. Peel outer layer of white asparagus, align spear tips and slice off ends of the white asparagus to form spears of equal length. Tie white asparagus in bundles of about 6 spears each.
2. Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot, season with fresh lemon, table salt and white sugar (to taste).
3. Place bundled white asparagus into boiling water, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for six minutes. Remove white asparagus from water when spears are al dente, but can be pierced easily with a knife tip.
4. Serve immediately with hollandaise sauce, parsley potatoes and ham slices.