white asparagus...'tis the season?

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I'm a white asparagus newbie and not a happy one. Living in France a lot of the year now I was able to grab me a super fresh bundle this spring and after peeling, boiling and dousing in butter, was left wondering what all the fuss was about. I know, Bloody heathen Eh?

Husband loved it, as did number 3 son so i guess i did something right, but it left me looking for a chloro-filled green stalk

I'm tempted to think that steaming might be better than boiling. But then they liked it ok I just found it watery and tasteless.

Looking forward to loads of tips on how to enjoy it better
 
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I wouldn't say they're my favorite but I do like to eat them while they're around.  I steam them first, then wrap them in smoky ham and roast.  Then I pour a bucket of bechamel or hollandaise over them :)
 
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I wouldn't say they're my favorite but I do like to eat them while they're around.  I steam them first, then wrap them in smoky ham and roast.  Then I pour a bucket of bechamel or hollandaise over them :)
I'd eat eyeballs wrapped in smokey ham and drenched in Hollandaise.
 

dillbert

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there's zilch question imho that (European/sundry providers of) white asparagus tastes "different" than what we see (green) is USA.

not sure if it is a question of blanched/no chlorophyll or a different strain/cultivar - but the taste is not identical.

now, whether a body likes/dislikes/prefers - that's simply a matter of taste - and as we all know, there's no accounting for taste.

in southern Germany, the green stuff is labelled "French style" - in France, it's labelled something else.

in southern Germany aka Bavaria aka Bayern - the whole thing borders on similar to the beer thing.  predominantly Catholic, asparagus aka Spargel is only harvested between St X and St Y days.  never did figure out how those thousand year dead saints affected the weather, but heh, it is what it is.

not sure anywhere in USA could afford the labor input to hill up and blanch Martha Washington asparagus - it would be "white" - no clue what it would taste like.

European Spargel season is a bit like USA southern peach season - or local strawberry season.  sometimes "it" is better that other times.
 
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I, too, can't see the point of making asparagus white with all that extra work.  My feeling has always been that most things are tastier the more color they have not the less.  White asparagus taste less, it;s not a matter of type of taste but rather quantity of taste, and to my taste, it's definitely less..  Bought it once, never will buy it again. 
 
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50 years ago they were the thing. All they are , asparagus without sun. Now grown in many areas hydoponitcly
 
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Seems a wee bit sad really. I was expecting great things and am so disappointed. I was hoping you guys would have a redeeming recipe.
 
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I'm not a huge asparagus fan to begin with but absolutely LOVED the spargel soup in Germany!  Don't have a recipe tho...darnit cause I would go to the work of mounding for white asparagus.  For me, the white is easier to eat since it has a much milder taste.  I also noticed that in Europe, the asparagus seems to be way "thicker" than here.  My dad always insisted it be picked/cut when it was less than a pinky in circumference.  The asparagus over there was at least a thumb's thickness.  
 
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I actually don't think there's much of a taste difference between the white and the green. The only reason I didn't like it is because it felt like I was eating something albino.
 
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 I also noticed that in Europe, the asparagus seems to be way "thicker" than here.  My dad always insisted it be picked/cut when it was less than a pinky in circumference.  The asparagus over there was at least a thumb's thickness.  
Not in Italy, or i should say, not in Rome, at least.  It's usually about as thick a thin pinky.  And they have the wild asparagus in the markets, which is less than pencil thin, very green, and very long. 
 
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Joined Sep 26, 2012
I'm not a huge asparagus fan to begin with but absolutely LOVED the spargel soup in Germany!  Don't have a recipe tho...darnit cause I would go to the work of mounding for white asparagus.  For me, the white is easier to eat since it has a much milder taste.  I also noticed that in Europe, the asparagus seems to be way "thicker" than here.  My dad always insisted it be picked/cut when it was less than a pinky in circumference.  The asparagus over there was at least a thumb's thickness.  
Ahh, that can be helped. I am from Northern Bavaria, where a lot of asparagus is grown. Indeed the thicker ones are about thumb-thick, but I prefer the thinner ones. 

Now, for the soup. Traditional frankonian way:

Peel the asparagus and cut off the bottom ends. Cover the peels and ends with water, season with some salt and sugar and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for about 2 hours. Strain the resulting asparagus fond.

Cut the peeled asparagus into pieces, reserve the tips. Simmer the pieces without the tips in the strained fond for about 20 minutes. Add cream and puree. Season to taste with more salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Keep warm.

Sautée the reserved tips in butter until tender but still with a slight crunch. Add to the soup. Serve sprinkled with chopped chives. Sautéed crawdads make a nice addition, too. The asparagus fond can be enriched with some chicken or white veal fond, too.

One essential tip for handling white asparagus: Do not let it fall dry. Keep it wrapped in a wet towel all the time, or it will degrade rapidly.
 
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Ahh, that can be helped. I am from Northern Bavaria, where a lot of asparagus is grown. Indeed the thicker ones are about thumb-thick, but I prefer the thinner ones. 

Now, for the soup. Traditional frankonian way:
Oh!!!  Thank you so much!!  We were stationed in Bamberg so I'm pretty sure this is going to be very close to what we had there!!!  Guess I'm going to have to start mounding my asparagus now....
 
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Oh!!!  Thank you so much!!  We were stationed in Bamberg so I'm pretty sure this is going to be very close to what we had there!!!  Guess I'm going to have to start mounding my asparagus now....
Yeah, that's my neck of the woods, give or take 100 km, so I guess that should indeed be the one you had. Of course, there is a lot of variation from town to town, but the basic principle for the stock is the same. If it doesn't come out like you remember, you might want to try thickening it with a light roux, some people do it. Sometimes, a bit of lovage is added to the stock, too. Croutons for serving of course - but it all revolves around that basic concept above.

Hope you enjoy it! If you need any more forgotten recipes from that region, just give me a call - it's the stuff I grew up with, and if I do not know the recipe, my mother surely does :D
 
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In Germany, good white asparagus is only grown in a few regions, one being just around the corner from my restaurant. I get the stuff straight from the farmer, and it's fantastic! The white stalks have a very short shelf life; once the cut ends have dried up, the asparagus has lost its flavour. Which also means that it doesn't travel well. There is a huge difference in flavour between the white German (and some French) asparagus and the asparagus you get elsewhere, e.g. from Greece, Spain, etc. That stuff is pretty flavourless and quite bitter. Wouldn't touch it.

White asparagus is best poached in salty water with some sugar and butter in it. It's done when it's 'al dente', but not crunchy. Traditionally served with melted butter or a hollandaise.

The asparagus season lasts from whenever it's ready to pick (four weeks later than average this year due to the cold in March/April) to some patron saint's day or other, the 24th of June. The reason for this is that if the stalks were harvested after this date (give or take a couple of days), the plants would not have sufficient time to recover and form new stalks for the year after.

Most people who taste German asparagus for the first time become addicted :)
 
 
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