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White Asparagus

I am a white asparagus newbie. No idea how to cook them, just bought some on sale from the grocery store today. Any suggestions?

Do I cook them like green asparagus?

Anything I need to do to prep them? Should I bend and break like with green asparagus? They seem much firmer.

I usually cook green asparagus on the grill with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Will this do for white asparagus too?

Would love to hear other suggestions! Cheers.

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  1. I am very surprised that one would be able to get white asparagus this time of year -- where I come from it's a highly seasonal vegetable and only available during May and June, so I am doubtful that it will have any flavor at all. Be that as it may, here are some answers to your questions:

    you need to peel from the top third down, as the outside of the bottom two thirds tend to be rather tough.

    It's usually boiled standing up in a large pot of water with equal parts salt & sugar, the heads just peaking out of the water, steaming them to a delicious buttery consistency.

    Traditionally, you'd serve it with drawn butter, fresh parsley, smoked ham & new potatoes. But again -- it's January, so..... good luck!

    4 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      I'm with you -- unless you're in the southern hemisphere, these are not in season, and I wouldn't buy them.

      1. re: pikawicca

        Like much of the fruits and vegs sold in the US, especially during our colder months this stuff presumably IS from the southern hemisphere - Chile even grows blueberries now. LOL

        Unless you buy nothing that isn't local, there's no particular reason to avoid asparagus - green or white - any more than other vegs. They're probably better compared to seasonal than a lot of other produce available right now - it's not like it has to ripen or anything - what we eat is just the small shoot of what becomes a very large plant. As long as the roots are healthy and the temperature is right, it'll start growing. As long as it seems to be in good condition, it should be at least "fine." And FWIW I've never gardened outside the northeast, but I'm pretty sure asparagus comes up long before May in the warmer parts of the US!

        1. re: MikeG

          I suppose I should've elaborated --

          The most important factor for great quality (think flavor) white asparagus is terroir: sandy grounds. Some of the best comes from the area around Berlin, Germany, which is certainly not famous for warm weather. In fact, one of the reasons it is white is because it is kept from sunlight, otherwise it would turn green.

          I made the mistake of buying white asparagus at the local Wegmans once, and was VERY disappointed. You'd probably be much better off buying green.

      2. re: linguafood

        I see them everywhere, especially Whole Foods and they are quite good. I lay them flat and peel the bottom slightly as they can be tough. (but be careful, they seem to break more easily than the green ones) I put them on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake at 400 for 20-minutes, then shave some parmesan on top and let it melt...finish with lemon squeeze...delicious!

      3. White asparagus should be peeled because the outer layer is tougher han the green asparagus. If boiled the white asparagus takes significantly longer than the green, anywhere from 50 to 100% longer depending on the thickness.
        It seems like Peru is now one of the all year suppliers. Unfortunately in Toronto it's impossible to buy the big fat spears that are the standard in Europe. I think they keep them all for themselves.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mexivilla

          Correct. White asparagus is *quite* different from green asparagus in preparation.

        2. Peel them. The skins are bitter.

          Best I ever had was poached in chilled, served with a vinegrette dressing in Brazil. Fantastic.

          1. Your white asparagas probably came from Peru--the north coast around Trujillo where irrigation of the desert sands and modern plants have led to booming export production. Should be quite good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              That's really interesting. I wonder if I can get that Peruvian asparagus around here. Not that I really need to eat it this time of year... I actually like the fact that it's 'seasonal' -- something to look forward to in late spring / early summer. I'd be VERY interested in trying it and comparing it to the real deal.

              1. re: linguafood

                I don't know anything about white asparagus apart from what I have just read from the responses. I bought mine from Whole Foods, here in NYC, as it was on sale! :) Will give it a go and see how it tastes. Thanks for the comments.

            2. Peel where needed. Boil in salted water. Serve them in a pile with chopped ham and chopped hard boiled egg on top. Grate a little nutmeg over it and pour on the melted butter!