When life hands you lemons, you must make lemonade. Everybody knows that, but we don’t get told what to do when life hands you a bunch of fresh asparagus. Because that is what happened to me this week.
Fresh asparagus, also known as the official herald of spring if you live in Belgium. Forget the daffodils, the swallows and the blooms; it isn’t spring until you can get your hands on an asparagus, grown in pure black, muddy Belgian soil. Don’t talk to me about the Belgian soil, I have seen quite enough of it lately, digging in the earth, planting things which I hope will grow in the heavy clay that makes up my garden. The flowers I planted last year where all drowned in the heavy floods or eaten by vicious rabbits from hell.
I hate rabbits. The only good rabbit is a death rabbit. Or a chocolate one, I can live with a chocolate rabbit.
So I had the distinct pleasure of getting reacquainted with the earthworms that inhibit the soil and dig all of those plants out. Have you ever dug in heavy clay? No, count yourself lucky. It is heavy work, why do you think the plough was invented in this part of the world? Also, I don’t particularly like mud or clay, unless it is rubbed on my bare skin by a tall blonde, blue-eyed, muscular Norwegian man called Eric or Haakon.
But back to the asparagus. I do like asparagus.
The traditional way to prepare this white gold is by boiling it in water and drowning it in a buttery sauce. This is called A la Flamande.
I did want to go there; not because I have distaste for butter, far from it, I have many fond memories of butter. Ok, the eyebrows of anybody who has seen Last Tango in Paris will have shot right up to their hairline after reading that last bit, so I had better specify that my butter-related memories are all culinary *hem*.
Anyhoooo, I wanted something different for my asparagus. I wanted my asparagus to boldly go where no asparagus had gone before. As luck would have it I have a cookbook with nothing but asparagus recipes. This one (sorry dutch only):
It features a recipe for lamb curry with asparagus. I ditched the lamb and kept the rest, added some carrots, some cucumber et voila: Spring fling curry.
Spring fling curry (feeding two hungry people)
- 1 shallot, peeled and diced
- half a cucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced
- 8 asparagus, peeled and the woody ends cut off
- two carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 generous tablespoon of green curry
- a teaspoon of grated ginger
- 100ml of cream (heavy, skim or soy, whatever you prefer, you can totally substitute for coconut milk if you wish, but I had run out, so cream it was)
- 100 ml of chicken stock (from a cube of course, I don’t have fresh stock at hand on a busy Wednesday evening.
- a dash of fish sauce
- a dash of Worcestershire sauce
- sesame oil
- salt and pepper
- Take out your special asparagus pot… Wait, you don’t have one? Me neither. This is how I cook my asparagus: put the asparagus in a ceramic dish, coves with a little water or stock (when I say a little I really do mean a little, the asparagus is a delicate vegetable don’t flood it, the vegetables should be half submerged), cover with microwave foil and put it in the microwave for 3 minutes at 650W.
- Boil some water in an ordinary pot and add the carrots, cook them for about 5 or 6 minutes and then drain them.
- In smaller pot heat some sesame oil and add the green curry paste, stir until the paste becomes somewhat fluid, add ginger, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, the cream and the stock and leave to simmer over low heat
- Next take a large pan and heat some more sesame oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and stir it until it glazes over, add the carrots and turn down the heat a notch. Let them be for a while because it is time to turn your attention to
- The asparagus. Heat some olive oil in a large girdle over high heat. Cut the asparagus into thin strips and put them into the pan, bake them on both sides until you can they get a lovely brown pattern. Be carefull this part can go fast.
- While the asparagus bake, turn back to the carrots. Turn up the heat a notch and add the cucumbers. Stir them in with the carrots and continue until they are glazed over with the oil
- Buy now the asparagus should be ready and you can eat:
Serve with fried or cooked rice.