White asparagus is not a very popular vegetable all over the world, but did you know that Germans eat about 125,000 tons of this veggie per year? Considering they are the country of bratwurst, pretzels, and sauerbraten, we should have faith in them when it comes to this meal too.
Many people are skeptics when it comes to white asparagus because it is thought it has a tough and bitter taste, but if you cook it properly, this vegetable may yet amaze you. Want to know how it’s done? Not so fast, first you need to learn some things about white asparagus.
White Asparagus Facts
Many people don’t know that white and green asparagus actually comes from the same plant. The difference is that our “vampire asparagus” is grown without exposure to light, which prevented the process of photosynthesis and the production of chlorophyll.
It is a very healthy vegetable, since it contains less than 20 calories per serving (about 130g) and no fat at all. It is also rich in fiber, iron, vitamin C, calcium and other essential nutrients.
What Does It Taste Like?
It is believed that white asparagus has a strong bitter taste, but that is a common misconception. When its bitter peel is removed, the vegetable actually has a delicate and sweet flavor with just a hint of bitterness, which resembles nothing like the grassy flavor of its green cousin.
How To Choose The Best White Asparagus?
You must be really careful when buying white asparagus because plants that have passed their expiration date can taste awful. So here’s how to find fresh and tasty spargels (German):
● You should look for straight and white spears without hints of violet or crookedness.
● Dried ends are a big flaw. You will discover them by looking and gently squeezing them. If they produce droplets – they’re good.
● The asparagus should look thick and stocky. Then you will know it is simple to peel and that there is more “meat” left inside when it’s peeled.
How To Prepare White Asparagus For Cooking?
You can’t just put a few of these veggies in the grilling pan and hope for the best. You need to prepare them for cooking. The infamous outer skin of white asparagus needs to be peeled before cooking it, because not only it is bitter, it is also too stringy to eat. Also, the base of the vegetable needs to be removed, because it is very woody and difficult to chew.
The Traditional Way Of Cooking Asparagus
The traditional way of cooking asparagus is a good place to start if you haven’t encountered this vegetable before. With this method, you can’t go wrong, because it will always taste correctly.
It requires preparing an emulsion of water, salt, and lemon juice and bringing it to boil.
After the boiling, you should add the asparagus spears and simmer between ten and thirty minutes, depending on the thickness of the plants. To allow the asparagus to retain the rich flavor and moisture leave it to cool in the emulsion for ten to twenty minutes.
Alternative Ways Of Cooking White Asparagus
Of course, over the years many chefs and other people who love cooking were experimenting with different ways of cooking white asparagus. Here are some of them (in each of them asparagus is already peeled and prepped for cooking).
● Boiling in sweet-salty water. It includes boiling water that contains equal parts of sugar and salt and then adding asparagus and cooking it between three and seven minutes, depending on the texture you are trying to get.
● Roasting asparagus in the oven requires preheating the oven to 400˚F. The asparagus should be seasoned with olive oil, placed on the baking sheet and roasted for about 20 minutes. Don’t forget to occasionally turn it to enable even baking.
● Grilling is another good way to get the caramelized flavor you would get with roasting. You can also grill it on a real outdoor barbecue and enrich it with a smoky aroma.
Additionally, white asparagus can be pickled, which is especially great if you have leftovers. Speaking of leftovers, you can use the bases you cut off to prepare a creamy puree or a velvety soup.
What Is An Asparagus Pot?
An asparagus pot isn’t something that is found in everyone’s kitchen, so it is OK not to know what exactly it is. It is a specialized pot for boiling/steaming asparagus spears which is similar to a spaghetti pot, but taller which allows the asparagus spears to stand up and cook more evenly.
It also has inserts that allow preserved flavor and nutriments. If you don’t have such a pot, it is best to use a pan large enough for the asparagus spears to lie flat without being bent.
What Goes Well With Spargels?
You may have noticed from the cooking tips that we didn’t recommend some special seasonings to spice up the white asparagus. Why is that so? Well, the delicate taste and slight bitterness of white asparagus make it already sufficiently interesting.
These flavors also contribute to its capability to go well even with the strong-flavored meats, like duck and beef, but with more subtle flavors such as chicken and fish as well
The most traditional accompaniment to “vampire asparagus” is the hollandaise sauce which is an emulsion of lemon juice, liquid butter, egg yolk, and water. Butter, olive oil and other fats also counteract the bitterness of this veggie, so they are a good company. However, we wouldn’t recommend going overboard with them and thus ruining the health potential of white asparagus.
Furthermore, strong cheeses like cheddar, taleggio, and parmesan give this veggie an even richer flavor. That’s why white asparagus tastes so well on pizza when sprinkled with cheese and combined with salty prosciutto.
Ideas For Fantastic White Asparagus Dishes
If you still aren’t sure what to do with this veggie that has so much potential, we’ll give you a few ideas in the form of great recipes you can try.
● White asparagus with ham & chive dressing (a quick, simple and delicious recipe).
● White asparagus with hollandaise sauce (sometimes the traditional way to go is the best way to go).
● Roasted White Asparagus with Herbs from Provence (goes perfectly with your favorite French dish).
● White asparagus in blankets (rolled up in eggy pancakes and wrapped in ham).
● Leftovers white asparagus cream soup (nothing goes to waste).
Now that you know how to cook white asparagus, your life will never be the same again. It is one of the healthiest veggies out there, and it is much more versatile than we know. So, start cooking and enjoy it.