Here’s how to get yours, fresh from Holland for a limited time only.
In much of the northern hemisphere, bright green spears of asparagus are a signal that spring has arrived. But in Germany and a handful of other European countries, chefs and shoppers are looking for those spears in a different hue altogether: white!
What is White Asparagus?
White asparagus is very popular in Europe and western Asia. White asparagus is the result of applying a blanching technique while the asparagus shoots are growing. To cultivate white asparagus, the shoots are covered with soil as they grow, i.e. earthed up; without exposure to sunlight, no photosynthesis starts, and the shoots remain white. Compared to green asparagus, the locally cultivated so-called “white gold” or “edible ivory” asparagus, also referred to as “the royal vegetable,” is believed to be less bitter and much tenderer. Freshness is very important, and the lower ends of white asparagus must be peeled before cooking or raw consumption.
Only seasonally on the menu, asparagus dishes are advertised outside many restaurants in Europe, usually from late April to June. For the French style, asparagus is often boiled or steamed and served with Hollandaise sauce, melted butter or olive oil, Parmesan cheese, or mayonnaise. Tall, narrow asparagus cooking pots allow the shoots to be steamed gently, their tips staying out of the water.
According to Eating Well, in Germany, white asparagus (weißer spargel) is celebrated – quite literally – with festivals from April to June. If you’ve never had white asparagus, it is exactly like green asparagus but without chlorophyll (the green in plants that helps generate oxygen in the photosynthesis process). It has to do with the deliberate harvesting process. Germans like it because it’s sweeter and more tender than the green variety.
To learn more about white asparagus and why it’s such a beloved delicacy, click HERE for a great informative article from HuffPost.
Harvesting Asparagus: White vs. Green
White and green asparagus are grown the same way but there’s one huge difference in the process. White asparagus stalks are picked before they peek through the soil–they never see the sun. The green asparagus stalks are picked after they break through the soil and are exposed to the sun to develop chlorophyll, which is what makes them green.
To Peel or Not to Peel
The outer layer of white asparagus can be tough and fibrous, which means it’s best to peel white asparagus. To remedy this, it’s best to use a vegetable peeler to remove the woody layer before cooking the same way you would with green asparagus. Peeling the outer layer of white asparagus makes the stalk very tender after it’s been steamed, roasted or sauteed.
The Price of White Asparagus
White asparagus is typically more expensive than green asparagus because it’s only available a few weeks a year and the growing process requires special attention. That rarity translates to premium prices, but to some people, those sweet stalks are worth it. In Malaysia, since most green asparagus is imported anyway, the price difference isn’t quite as dramatic as it might be in countries where asparagus is grown.
Cooking White Asparagus
The delicately sweet spears demand kid-glove treatment in the kitchen too. Lay spears flat on a cutting board and peel the bottom two-thirds of each spear with a vegetable peeler. Boil in a large skillet filled with several inches of water until very tender, 10 to 20 minutes. (Don’t leave them tender-crisp as you might with green asparagus.) The traditional way to eat them is with your fingers, dipping them in Hollandaise sauce.
Get the recipe: Hollandaise Sauce
Or, for an easy dip, stir together 3 tablespoons each nonfat plain Greek yogurt and low-fat mayonnaise with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, and a pinch of salt.
HERE’S HOW TO GET YOUR FRESH WHITE ASPARAGUS!
You can order your fresh white asparagus from Chalet Suisse, a long-operating local restaurant which imports the delectable spears of white asparagus direct from Holland during the short and precious growing season, which ends later this month.
From now until June 18, you can place your order and it will be ready for pick-up or delivery on the nearest Friday (i.e., June 4, June 11, or June 18).
All white asparagus is Grade A or Grade B or mixed, depending on the supply.
You can either pick up your order at Chalet Suisse in Ampang (address below) at no extra charge, or it can be delivered to your door via Grab Food with no additional surcharge (Grab’s cost price only).
You can pay for your order via bank transfer for deliveries or cash/credit card for pick-ups.
The price? RM89.00 per kg (minimum order 1 kg). Go in with a friend to split the order if a whole kilo is too much!
If you don’t want to make your own Hollandaise sauce, you can also order an instant Hollandaise mix from Chalet Suisse for just RM6.00.
To place your order or for inquiries:
WhatsApp to 016.346 5761 (Mariel) or 012.297 1904 (Manfred) – kindly note no phone calls to these numbers; WhatsApp messages only, please!
You can also drop an email to [email protected].
For pick-ups, Chalet Suisse is located at No. C11-1, Jln. Ampang Utama 1/1, Off Jalan Ampang, 68000 Ampang
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