Monday, April 18, 2011

The Spear of Destiny

Spring has finally sprung and here's the proof:

©2011 John Houser III

Asparagus has finally hit the Baltimore Farmer's Markets and it is time to savor the green spear that makes our pee stinky. All toilet humor aside (get it?... toilet?..), I love asparagus in all forms and one of the best ways that I like to have it is raw.

When I was in Barcelona Spain last year I had a dish that has haunted me since I had it. It was a poached egg with shaved asparagus, truffle and extra virgin olive oil. It was incredible. The taste of the fresh asparagus, the creaminess of the poached egg, the bite of the olive oil and the depth that the truffle added made it a perfect plate of food. This is a good representation of that dish with the truffle and truffle oil left out. The reason I left it out was because one: truffles are expensive, and b: they're not readily available to most people easily. If you have access to truffles then by all means add the truffle. It will take this dish to a place you will want to hang out all day. Don't use truffle oil as a substitute. Most truffle oils use cheap chemicals to fake the truffle taste. Real truffle oils are expensive and not worth buying most of the time.

Note: You will want to use the fatter spears of asparagus. They're easier to shave because they are thicker and they're sturdier. Grill or pan sear your thinner spears. They'll thank you for it.

Let's get started:

Shaved Asparagus with Poached Egg

1 Egg
2 Fat Spears of Asparagus
2 Tbls Salt
2 Tbls Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Lemon
Salt & Pepper

1. Fill a small saucepan 3/4 full with water. Add 2 tbls salt and 2 tbls vinegar. Bring to a light simmer (slight bubbling or 190°F). The vinegar helps stiffen up the egg whites when they are in the water. The salt is for flavoring obviously.

2. On a plate, shave one spear of raw asparagus to make a small bed to lay the poached egg on. Add a pinch of salt and a few turns of pepper onto the asparagus.

©2011 John Houser III

3. Crack an egg onto a flat surface and pour it into a large ramekin. If you do not have ramekins, use a small bowl. This way you can slip the egg into the water gently.

©2011 John Houser III
4. With a spoon, stir the water in a circle (clockwise or counter does not matter). Stir it enough to make a little vortex. The vortex keeps the egg from reaching it's eggy little tentacles all around the water. It makes the egg nice and round. It's also really fun to watch by the way.

©2011 John Houser III

5. After the egg has set (roughly 3 1/2 minutes), pull it out with a slotted spoon and sit it on a napkin to wick away the excess water. Set the egg on the shaved asparagus.

©2011 John Houser III

6. Shave the second raw asparagus spear over the egg. Hit with salt and pepper and anoint the egg with a good glug of extra virgin olive oil.

©2011 John Houser III
7. Squeeze just a few drops of lemon juice onto the dish. Not too much, just enough to brighten it up. If you had a gun to my head I'd say 5 drops of lemon juice.
 It wouldn't hurt to have a thick piece of toasted bread to use as an edible mop for the egg. I'm just saying.

©2011 John Houser III
This is a simple and delicious recipe that should be part of any cooks repertoire. It's a dish that becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Make it once and it will become a go-to whenever you have fresh asparagus on hand.




Unknown said...

Johnny, this looks fabulous and I can't wait to try it. I love that you post step by step pics for us that are word challenged! I like knowing what its SUPPOSED to look like!

Apronpoint said...

they say that having Asparagus are for those who are wealthy enough because the asparagus are very expensive. right? but there are also asparagus that are low quality during cultivation. but the one that are delicious are the asparagus that are classified as Class A.