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Jun 1, 2008 09:34 AM

How to cook perfect asparagus?

I thought I knew how to cook asparagus, but we ordered a simple asparagus appetizer at a restaurant last night and it was sublime. It was perfectly al dente, soft enough to bite into, firm enough to give a tiny bit of a snap. It was served chilled with what seemed to be a parmesan based vinaigrette. Now I'm on a mission to relearn how to cook asparagus properly. Any tips?

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  1. I put it in a frying pan, cover with cold water, add a little salt and bring to a boil. Test with a sharp knife. It's usually done ...

    Occasionally I peel, but not always.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      It was served chilled............

      From this comment the secret is to remove the vegetable from simmering salted water and shock the asparagus in an ice water bath once it reaches the desired bright green color. It's hard to give you a specific time due the the different thicknesses of available asparagus. i.e., thin or thick spears.

      Once the asparagus is cooled, drain and dry and you can prepare them anyway you wish with your favorite seasonings and/or dressings.

      1. re: fourunder

        Yes, true - I do that, or if I'm lazy, I put it in the freezer for a couple of minutes, or the fridge.

    2. It's far easier to serve asparagus in a chilled preparation, because when it's hot it cools so quickly like broccoli, and you are playing "beat the clock" with the rest of your dinner. Break the stems "where they want to break" and steam for 1 minute, 40 seconds. It is so much more versatile in cold salads. Example; with hearts of palm and thin strips of sweet red pepper, coddled on Boston lettuce, with fresh dill and mild honey-mustard dressing with macadamia pieces. And its utilitarian usefulness in "Oscar" and my personal "Felix" are boundless.
      Setting aside the "stinky pee" factor, such a wonderful vegetable! Plus the hot and cold soups- endless!

      1. Sometimes I blanch them and then shock them in an ice bath. Once you put them in the boiling water, it only takes like 2 or 3 minutes for them to cook.

        Then you could use them in a variety of ways.

        1. I like to broil mine in the oven with olive oil and kosher salt... I wish I could tell you how long, but I definitely do NOT like mine mushy, so I am sure it is just for a few minutes where they are still nice and green!

          On a related note, I just made Pancetta-Wrapped Asparagus with Citronette a few days ago. It was DIVINE! It is the next to the bottom one on this page:

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tehama

            15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. They are perfect, especially with a shaving of parm.

            1. re: rudmansjmu

              Heck yes. Maybe even hotter. I do parm and reduced balsamic drizzled on top.

          2. 1) Be picky - as in try to pick the bunch with them all closest to being the same thinness. Or be prepared to pick out the thickest/thinnest ones and cook accordingly.

            2) As others have said, if serving cold put them right into an ice bath,

            3) As Veggo says snap off the tough parts where they want to break. Thick ones may be peeled at the tough bottoms, but I prefer the thin ones and peeling is a PIA anyway.

            I prefer to oven roast these days. For salads you can chop first, ieaving the tips longer in an attempt to pretend the cooking times will equal the bottoms. EVOO, S&P, roast.