On Wednesday, I bought some asparagus at Whole Foods. It looked fine, but when I got it home, I noticed a really strong fishy smell coming from it. I washed it, examined it, it still looked fine, so I went ahead and used half of it in a pasta (it tasted OK).
But today I wanted to use the rest in a frittata and that fishy smell is really making me think I should just pitch it, instead. It still LOOKS just fine, but smells gross.
Am I missing something? Does asparagus normally have a fishy smell or does that indicate that it's rotten? I don't mind throwing it away, but I want to avoid throwing away perfectly good food, if this is normal or something.
Asparagus, even fresh asparagus, has an off odor normally. Without getting too graphic, it also has the same effect on your urine for that reason. If the tips are tight and firm, then it's fine. I just rinse the bunch under cold running water for a few seconds then stand it up in a container with about 2 inches of water.
Asparagus contains various volatile organic compounds, two of which are methanethiol and
dimethyl sulfide. Both of those compounds can cause a very pungent -- sometimes "fishy" odor -- in asparagus, and once metabolized can create the same effect on urine for those people with a certain gene called the autosomal.
Fresh young asparagus have a higher concentration of these compounds.
So more likely than not you got a bunch of asparagus that was quite young.
The asparagus you had was fine, just very very young.
Thanks for the help! I'm glad I didn't throw it all away - it made a delicious frittata, along with some feta and caramelized onions!