There are a lot of reasons to eat asparagus. It's green, it's healthy, it's tasty and delicious. And perhaps the best reason to eat these tender, slender stalks is because they're traditionally served with Hollandaise sauce. Here's everything you need to simply steam asparagus and extravagantly transform butter into the richest, silkiest, smoothest sauce known to man.
Steaming asparagus and other green vegetables is always a better option to boiling. Boiling takes away texture and leaches away flavour, colour, and nutrients.
Yield: Serves 4 people
For the Hollandaise
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of white wine
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) of salt
3/4 cup (175 mL) of butter, melted and cooled for a few minutes
the juice and zest of 1 lemon
3-4 drops of your favourite hot sauce
2 bunches of asparagus, woody stems removed
First make the Hollandaise sauce. Bring a small pot of water several inches deep to a slow simmer over low heat. Fashion a double boiler by finding a glass or metal bowl that fits on top of – not in – the pot of simmering water.
In the bowl off the heat, whisk together the egg yolks, white wine, mustard, lemon juice, and hot sauce until light and frothy. Place the bowl over the barely simmering water and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and more than doubles in volume, about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for a few more moments to cool.
Since you’ll need both hands for this next part, ask an assistant to hold the bowl steady. If you’re flying solo, you can secure the bowl with a damp tea towel wrapped around the base. With one hand, slowly drizzle in the melted butter in a steady stream while whisking continuously with the other hand. The sauce will thicken as the butter emulsifies with the egg. Once all the butter has been slowly incorporated, slowly whisk in the lemon juice. If you feel the sauce is a bit too thick, feel free to slowly whisk in a few drops of warm water.
Keep the Hollandaise sauce warm for a few minutes by covering the bowl and placing it over the pot of warm water, leaving the heat turned off beneath the water.
Next cook the asparagus. Bring another pot of water to a boil over medium high heat. Steam the asparagus spears until bright green and tender, 5 minutes or so. Transfer to a festive platter, top with generous spoonfuls of hollandaise and serve.
© Chef Michael Smith