Making the most of asparagus

by Mark Broadbent

Mark Broadbent has enjoyed a food-obsessed career spanning three decades. He’s cooked in Five star Hotels, Two star Michelin restaurants, Gastro Pubs and Member’s Clubs, delivering unforgettable cuisine or acting as a consultant. London’s Bluebird was just one of his success stories. Under his creative direction, the restaurant achieved huge critical acclaim and was especially loved by AA Gill.

June 11th 2015

There’s something about asparagus that makes us chefs go weak at the knees. And it’s got nothing to do with its supposed aphrodisiac qualities.

Emerging from the ground as earthy green spears of perfection, it needs little preparation to taste sensational. Indeed, it’s the sort of vegetable that screams to be enjoyed as simply as possible: pure, unadulterated bliss.

When it comes to asparagus, there’s no place like home. British asparagus is undeniably the best in the world. And the fresher the better, so if you’re lucky enough to have a local grower nearby you’re in for a real treat.

Cropping from May to July, the British season is frustratingly brief. Sure, you can buy foreign-grown asparagus all year round in supermarkets – largely imported from Peru – but the taste is incomparable.

For me, asparagus is the crowning glory of the early summer crop and here’s a few ways to enjoy it while it’s at its best:


Asparagus and Parmesan

The secret with asparagus is not to overcook it – blanch it for just two minutes and then plunge quickly into ice cold water to retain its freshness. This ridiculously quick and easy dish is perfect as a starter or light lunch.

[ingredients]


[method]
  • Prepare the asparagus by breaking off the tough, woody ends. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the asparagus, reduce heat to a simmer and blanch for two minutes only.
  • Plunge the asparagus quickly into ice cold water before transferring to serving plates. Drizzle with the olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Scatter over the Parmesan and serve warm.

Asparagus tempura with chilli dipping sauce

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