Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Steamed asparagus with hollandaise

Frank brought home a pile of asparagus from the garden yesterday so of course I had to make some hollandaise.  This simple but luxurious sauce is not something to eat everyday.  But it is a must with the first asparagus of the year.  It is pretty good with steamed broccoli or spinach, too.

Some people like to peel the bottom of an asparagus stalk but I am a snapper myself. Just grab the stalk near the bottom and bend.  It will snap where it is supposed to.  You can save the tough bottom parts of the stalk for soup stock if you want to.

Asparagus can be roasted but if you are going to serve it with a sauce I think it is best steamed.  I recently purchased a new silicone vegetable steamer.  I am still getting used to it and haven't decided yet if I prefer the folding metal kind.   I just put some water in the bottom of a pot, brought it to a boil, lowered in the steamer with the asparagus and covered the pot.  It was done in about three minutes.  The handles on this kind of steamer make it easy to lift. 
If you don't have a steamer in your kitchen - it would be a good idea to get one.  Many vegetables take quite well to being steamed.

For the hollandaise all I needed was one raw egg yolk,  2 T of fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a juicy lemon) and 6 T. cold butter (that is 3/4 of a stick)  I whisked together the egg yolk and the lemon juice in a small saucepan.  Then - over very low heat - I gradually whisked in one T. of butter until it melted.  Then another T. and another until I had a beautiful thick bright yellow sauce.  The trick here is to keep the heat low, add the butter one piece at a time and keep stirring gently.   Some recipes tell you to use a double boiler but I have never found it necessary.

To serve just pour sauce over warm asparagus.  If you want a more substantial meal, poach one or two eggs per person and put those on top of the asparagus before you top with the sauce.  Serve with good toasted bread or even corn bread.  A spring feast.


  1. You make the hollandaise sound easy! My mother always served the first asparagus with some lemon juice and hard boiled egg that had been chopped very fine or even seived. I know the French have a name for that but I've forgotten it. Either way, I'm a glutton for fresh asparagus!

  2. I looked through the egg section of my Mastering the Art of French Cooking but couldn't find anything there. Have you ever heard of Eggs Goldenrod? Basically chopped hard boiled egg whites in a white sauce (bechamel) enriched with a raw egg yolk (and a little lemon juice). Hard boiled egg yolks sieved or grated on top. That might be pretty nice on top of asparagus.