It is the peak in the season for holland's most delicate vegetable, also known as the Queen of vegetables: asparagus.
They are grown in sandy banks and are white, have a very distinct taste and are considered an aphrodisiac (not just because of the fallic shape of it
They can be eaten frsh between the middle of april and the end of june and because of the warm weather, the quality is excellent this year. I will eat them again tomorrow and thought I'd share a reccipe with you, it was one of the seasonal specialties we sold in the restaurant I had in earlier years.
Asparagus with smoked salmon, sauce bearnaise and potatoes
Most importantly is peeeling the asparagus. they have a thick, woody skin which won't go soft when cooked. Best way to remove it, is to use a potatoe peeler. After peeling, cut off the bottom off the stem, about 2 fingers long (for those with thin finers, 3). Asparagus are cooked for about 20 minutes in water, with sugar, salt and some vinegar added. You need about 450 gr of asparagus per person. This seems much, but it is the main component of the meal.
For the sauce bearnaise you need:
125 gr clarified butter
1 clove of garlic (optional)
1 ts crushed black pepperkorns
1 egg yoke
1 dl tarragon vinegar/white wine
put vinegar, pepper korns and sjalots in a small pot on the stove and reduce to about 25 cc.
Drain and press as much liquid from the left over bits. Put this on a glass bowl and mix in the egg yoke. Put the glass bowl on a pan on the heat and warm the mass ‘au bain marie’. When the mass heats up, start to add the melted butter in a small drizzle and whisk your ass off. Make sure the heat stays low, or the sauce will seperate. When all butter has been emulgated, take the sauce off the heat, add peper, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice and add fresh tarragon leafs.
Cook the potatoes in their skin, around the time of the asparagus there is also a new harvest of potatoes. Use those if you can find them. Asparagus are traditionally eaten with sliced ham, but I prefer smoked salmon. The saltyness and softness of the fish matches perfectly with the sweetness of the asparagus and the acidity of the sauce bearnaise. To complete the dutch tradition, add a crumbled, hard-boiled egg. Drink a white wine or rosé (i’d advie a grauburgunder, a german white wine) with it. Enjoy...