9 May 2012
In Germany there’s a wonderful time of year called “Spargel Saison”. It’s when you can buy white asparagus everywhere, which is very uncommon in Scotland where you mostly get the green variety. When we were still living in Scotland, I loved to visit my family in Germany in the Spring time, as it would always mean Spargel time. In my opinion, white asparagus is absolutely delicious, but we’ve had both British and American friends here in Berlin say they tried it and found it horrible and bitter. They couldn’t understand why everyone in Germany was so obsessed with eating it. After some probing questions we discovered some major flaws in their Spargel preparation, which has promoted this post.
First of all, try to get some fresh Spargel from a market. It tastes infinitely superior to the pre-packaged stuff you get at the supermarket.
To prepare your Spargel for cooking, you need to peel it! The skin is quite tough and bitter, so you can probably tell where our friends are going wrong. Use a vegetable peeler and peel them from just below the tips all the way down, then cut off the woody bottom ends (usually ca. 1cm).
Bring some lightly salted water to a boil in a large saucepan, together with a pinch of sugar and a teaspoon of butter. Lower the heat, and let the Spargel simmer at medium heat for around 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness (I’ve had Spargel anywhere from 1cm to almost 2cm thick). Don’t overcook it, otherwise it will end up all stringy and mushy.
My favourite way to eat Spargel is with some ‘Salz Kartoffeln’ (peeled potatoes cooked in very salty water) and slices of ham, and slathered with Hollandaise sauce. I find the sauce quite tricky to make, so I just buy ready made packs of it which you can get in any major supermarket (and most of them are wheat free).