It’s that season again! Currently, white asparagus is available all over the Netherlands…
Originally from the south of the Netherlands (which is considered the asparagus epicenter of the country), I remember that as a small child eating the first asparagus of the season was considered a ‘special meal’! And this special meal usually took place at my grandmother’s house…
Traditionally we eat white asparagus with thinly cut gammon, hard boiled eggs, tiny new potatoes and a butter sauce… Delicious!
Now, if you can get your hands on some nice, fat and fresh white asparagus – here is what to do with them… The Dutch way!
First: Asparagus should be fresh and juicy. If you squeeze the stem, juice should come out. If this is not the case, it helps to soak the asparagus in water for a couple of hours before you prepare it. Anyway, soaking the asparagus in cold water for half an hour makes it easier to peel them!
Second: Contrary to most green asparagus varieties, white asparagus needs to be peeled… (Courtney, your mum was right!)
Peel the asparagus from the tip down, making sure you get rid of all the ‘woody’ skin (you might have to peel more at the bottom than at the top). Cut about an inch from the bottom. And save the peels for the soup!!
Boil eggs – one per person will do. Boil new potatoes (the small ones). Melt butter and scoop off the white foam (in my family we call this process ‘clearing the butter’, but I don’t know if this is the generic term for it).
I don’t have a special asparagus pan. I just use a big pan in which they can lay flat. Boil the asparagus in water with a bit of salt for about 10 minutes, then take them from the flame but leave them in the hot water until you serve them… (When you take the asparagus out of the pan, use a slotted spoon so you can keep the water in which they cooked, and do leave a couple of asparagus behind – for the soup, tomorrow).
Roll up gammon, peel and chop up eggs. Put gammon on plate with asparagus and potatoes, and distribute a line of chopped egg over the asparagus (this is how to serve it, my grandmother told me so herself).
Serve with the cleared, melted butter and a glass or more of good, cold white wine! They say asparagus are an aphrodisiac… Have a nice evening!
P.S. The soup: boil the saved cooking water with all the peels for another 10 minutes. Take the peels out. In a separate pan, make a roux from butter and flour – gently add the asparagus broth (stir! stir!). Bring to taste (salt, pepper, stock cube). Add pieces of the left-over asparagus. Yum…
white asparagus are a true delicacy also in navarra (spain) and in veneto (north of italy). They are white because they grow below the ground.
Also in veneto you eat them with hard boiled eggs (no gammon though….and no butter!). They also make delicious tramezzini with asparagus and hard boiled eggs!
I’m with Esther in Amsterdam right now and she served white asparagus for dinner and it was YUMMY!!
And indeed you can find asparagus in every single produce shop around this city. It’s really cool how it becomes a seasonal dish this time of year.
I have always been more of a green asparagus girl than a white one, but this sounds really, really good!
Oh my gosh! That sounds really, really, really good! I live in the South Pacific (on a very small island), having moved here from Illinois, and I really miss having a good variety of veggies! I love asparagus. The white asparagus sounds so good too. I might drool if I read that recipe again!