Ok, I know it is not yet the season for asparagus. Local they are not, they came in fact from Peru! But please, save your local food/sustainability/carbon foot print lectures for next time for I just could not hold the urge to have them when I saw them sitting prettily on the supermarket vegetable shelf.
I am expecting more of them on my dining table in the coming season, drenched in buttery Hollandaise sauce with German schwarzwalder schinken (cured pork from Black Forest region) and boiled new potatoes on the side, and flushed down with a glass (or two) of crisp Riesling wine.
It is relatively simple to prepare this dish, just boil the potatoes and the asparagus separately till just done, plate them up, drape them with your favourite ham and drizzle them with the sauce. If you are feeling decadent, you could add a couple of boiled quail eggs or poached chicken eggs. I omit them sometimes as I find it already very rich as it is.
It is the sauce that is rather tricky. But mind you, it is not difficult at all. You need a couple of egg yolk. Put them in a heat-proof bowl, beat till creamy and white with a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper. Then prop the bowl on a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, drizzle ¾ cup of melted butter (or if you are watching your weight, substitute half of the melted butter with olive oil) slowly, keep beating until you have a thick and creamy sauce around 2-3 minutes. The heat of the steam will cook the yolk slowly. There you have your Hollandaise sauce.
Tips: Green asparagus doesn’t need to be peeled, while white one does. Cut the woody stems of the asparagus, around 2-3 cm from the bottom end. Keep the peels, the stems and the cooking liquid for making soup. Don’t overcook the asparagus as nothing is more unappealing than mushy asparagus.