White Gold aka White Asparagus

White asparagus ready to be peeled

White asparagus ready to be peeled

In Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and France, late April to late June is white asparagus season. During this period I always try to eat as much white asparagus as possible – we’ve already had them 4 times! Compared to green asparagus, the white ones are more tender and less bitter. Normally Koen and I always eat them the Dutch way, with Hollandais sauce, ham, smoked salmon and a boiled egg. This season we’ve been experimenting. A few tips from Jeroen Meus to keep in mind when preparing asparagus:

  • Poke the bottom of the asparagus with your thumbnail; if moisture comes, they’re fresh
  • Rub the asparagus together; if they make a squeaky sound, they’re fresh
  • Rather than cutting the end off, break it off with your hands; that way you don’t accidentally cut off any of the tender asparagus

First I tried to make the Miraculous Rice-less Risotto with Leeks and Asparagus from My New Roots. White asparagus is really tough on the outside, so you have to peel each one before they become edible. And then to make the risotto I had to slice them into strips, then into grains. I also couldn’t find ramps and used leek as a substitute. For how much work is required, I didn’t think the result matched – so I won’t be making risotto from white asparagus again. I much much much prefer to eat white asparagus in a simpler way.

My first white asparagus of the season

My first white asparagus of the season

 

Painstaking process of peeling, julienning, and slicing

Painstaking process of peeling, julienning, and slicing

 

Ingredients for the sauce, which also included lemon juice, olive oil, and honey

Ingredients for the sauce, which also included lemon juice, olive oil, and honey

 

The result topped with freshly shaved Parmesan

The result topped with freshly shaved Parmesan

 

After the rice-less risotto, we were left craving white asparagus in the traditional Dutch way. I forgot to take a photo, but luckily we eat asparagus every year, so I will show one from last year. Our dinner was slightly different – no lamb from the barbeque and no salmon. We served the asparagus with Hollandais sauce and two types of ham – Black Forest and Coburg.

 

White Asparagus prepared the Dutch way

White Asparagus prepared the Dutch way

 

The third way we’ve eaten white asparagus this year is as Asparagus Soup. I have always loved asparagus soup but had never made it myself. This recipe is so simple and so flavorful. I will definitely make it again! My only mistake is that I didn’t make enough. I didn’t realize that you generally have to take into account 500g per person. Luckily we had bread on hand so we had enough to eat. You’ll also notice that the asparagus I used are much thinner. The thin asparagus are called “soup asparagus”. So even more work to peel all of them! I also had to make one substitution – I didn’t have any sherry, so I used white wine instead with the egg yolk and cream mixture.

As a side note – I found my camera! It’s been lost for about a year so I’m really happy it turned up when we were doing some Spring cleaning. Now I’m able to take better photos!

 

500g peeled white asparagus

500g peeled white asparagus

 

One more photo of the peeled asparagus

One more photo of the peeled asparagus

 

After sauteeing the shallot, the pieces of stalk are sauteed as well before adding the chicken broth - the tips are saved for the end, after the soup has been blended

After sauteeing the shallot, the pieces of stalk are sauteed as well before adding the chicken broth – the tips are saved for the end, after the soup has been blended

 

Mmm....asparagus soup topped with parsley!

Mmm….asparagus soup topped with parsley and white pepper!

 

For our most recent white asparagus meal, Koen prepared them the Flemish way, or Asperges à la Flamande. Even though Koen and I have lived in Belgium for 3 years, we’ve never eaten them this way. Chris and Hannah were visiting us from the Netherlands yesterday, so we decided it was the perfect time to prepare this Belgian dish. It’s very similar to the Dutch way, but the tastes are more subtle. Rather than Hollandais sauce, the asparagus is served with clarified butter mixed with pieces of boiled egg and parsley. But I have to say, although this was delicious, I prefer them with a good Hollandais sauce. Of course I was eating dinner with 3 Dutch people and they were joking that this is an easier version of the Dutch way because Belgians can’t make a good Hollandais haha.

 

Peeled and boiled white asparagus on our asparagus plate

Peeled and boiled white asparagus on our asparagus plate

 

Asperges à la Flamande

Asperges à la Flamande

 

And one more with the sides - smoked salmon and potato salad

And one more with the sides – smoked salmon and potato salad

One thought on “White Gold aka White Asparagus

  1. Pingback: Tomate aux crevettes | An American in Antwerp

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