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best way to cook asparagus
Asparagus is a sweet, nutty-flavored vegetable that is as versatile in color as serving styles may be. This vegetable is recommended especially for people with weight problems, because it is low in calories and sodium. It often served as a side dish or as an appetizer. Most people prefer to eat it raw as part of their meal, instead of cooking it.
How to Clean Asparagus
Generally, start by stripping the tiny scales of the asparagus stems on the sides by using a small knife. You need to master how to strip this part because this is exactly where sands and grit are found in this area. While cleaning them under the flow of water, handle the underneath end of the stem in one hand and bend it gently with the other hand. The stem will break at the tender location and the broken ends can be used for soups. Once you are done with the stem-breaking, rub the asparagus lightly. Then turn the stem upside down and continue cleaning it.
Tips on how to prepare asparagus for cooking/steaming.
Buy fresh asparagus with round tips, thin and straight stalks and a deep green color. If you’re in Europe, you’ll usually find white asparagus (usually called spargel) instead of the green ones. Such asparagus are sweeter and tenderer than the rising green variety. To cook white asparagus, you must peel them before you consume them
The bottom part of the vegetable is covered mostly with sand and dirt. Before you use it in your dish make sure you wash it very well with cool water. Asparagus are best cooked after keeping them in the refrigerator for not more than two days. Long storage times will change the vegetable’s signature flavor. Simple trick for testing if your white asparagus are still fresh, rub them together and if they make a squeezing sound they’re perfectly fresh!
Before transforming the asparagus into a proper dish, you should steam or boil them first. Otherwise even though you cook them, the inside of the stems will still be raw. Only young asparagus should be steamed, they have a tender texture. Boiling asparagus requires a trick which is unique but simple:
– Placed the lower part of the stems in a boiling pot of water.
– Keep out the tips of the water. The steam coming from the boiling water will softens the tips.
– Take the asparagus out of the pot after about eight minutes, or until the tips are soft enough.
– Place them in a bowl of ice water after the asparagus is cooked, this immediately stops the cooking process.
By tying between 10 and 12 stems into bundles, you can easily remove them from the water at the same time. Asparagus tastes best when it is tender yet crisp.
different ways how you can use asparagus
You can cook the asparagus several different ways. You can stir-fry it with pork, beef, shrimp or chicken. They can also be quickly grilled on a bbq grill or in an oven. White asparagus in Belgium are often eaten with Hollandaise sauce and potatoes. You may want to add olive oil, Parmesan cheese, melted butter, or mayonnaise to your steamed or boiled asparagus, if you prefer the French style. Serve asparagus when it is still warm to maintain the flavor.
How to buy asparagus and how to use different types of them?
There are three types of asparagus widely available in grocery and specialty stores today.
- Green Asparagus is really the traditional type of asparagus sold in bunches of either young thin and tender spears or older thicker spears.
- This newer form, Purple Asparagus, is a brightly colored asparagus that requires a special cooking technique. To maintain its distinctive purple color purple asparagus has to be cooked with some kind of acidity such as lemon juice or vinegar.
- White Asparagus are nothing more than green asparagus that over the growing season are covered in soil. By covering the asparagus with soil chlorophyll is not produced by the plant. White asparagus while delightful as an alternative is less sweet and not as tender as its green counterpart.
When buying any of the three varieties look for fresh tender asparagus. Follow your nose, sniff the asparagus if it has a strange or musty smell it is not fresh. Also look at the ends of the asparagus. The ends should be moist and free of mold. If the ends in the store are exposed to air then bring them home and cut off the bottom by about 1 inch. Then stand the spears up in about 1 inch of water and store up to three days in the refrigerator.
Quick complete run-down on how to cook asparagus to perfection.
Preferably, you will buy asparagus and prepare it the same time, but you can find iced spears each and every one year-round. Here are some tips on how to buy asparagus:
- Fresh asparagus is in season from late February through June.
- Depending on the season, you can get asparagus canned or frozen, or find fresh asparagus grown in a hothouse or brought in from warmer climates.
- The standard rule is 1.5 pounds of asparagus for 4 people.
- The size of the asparagus anyone buys has more to do with personal preference than flavor. It is said that size does not matter as both tastes equally good.
- Whichever size stalk anyone picks out, it is best to buy tips that are closed.
- Although you can store asparagus in the freezer for 5 days, it is best to prepare it fresh as soon as possible to take full advantages of its great flavor!
- According to Martha Steward, asparagus will stay fresh up to five days in the refrigerator.
While it is not necessary to peel asparagus, you should cut off the fibrous base and discard it before cooking. Wash it under cold water to remove any sand or soil residues. Asparagus are best tied together in bundles with the bottoms level for ease of cooking and extraction if choosing to steam them which retains their flavor and nutrients better than boiling
While asparagus can be eaten raw, most people prefer it lightly cooked – usually steamed. Place the bundle, stem side down, in a tall pot of 2 inches of boiling water. Alternatively, there are tall, narrow steamers made specifically for this purpose if you plan to fix asparagus frequently. Cover and steam the asparagus for 5-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. While the ends of the asparagus are being boiled, the tips are being steamed to perfection. The end result should be bright green, crisp yet tender spears. Other potential cooking variations include roasting, grilling, microwaving, and stir frying.
Asparagus can be served hot or cold. However, you serve it, do not let your asparagus sit in water as this damages its flavor and texture. If your recipe calls for cold asparagus, simply plunge the stalks into icy cold water immediately after cooking, then remove them quickly. This stops the cooking process and helps preserve the color and crispness of the asparagus. Your asparagus is now ready to add to your favourite recipe.