White Asparagus, Prawns, Passionfruit and Chillies – 30-minute Dinners

photoAsparagus are one of my favourite vegetables, ever! Unfortunately this white gold is only in season for a relatively short period. Weather permitting asparagus can be available as of early April until the last week of June.
Sometimes I can’t resist the temptation and will buy asparagus wherever I find them. As a result farm bought asparagus are more superior in quality than supermarket bought asparagus. There are so many different asparagus classifications, however I can’t always tell the difference.
I prepare asapargus as much as possible throughout the season, and experience has taught me to look out for the following when hunting for my white gold.
1. Color. Make sure the tips of the asparagus aren’t colored. Once the asparagus is ready to harvest it will break a notch in the sand. Each asparagus is then dug out of the sand by hand and cut at the right length from the root. If the tips are slightly purple colored, it means that the tip reached out on the surface for too long. Allowing sunshine to color the asparagus and therefore reducing its quality and taste. Be on the lookout that your white gold is free from “rust”, also known as the browing that appears on vegetables which indicates the produce isn’t fresh. What you would like to see is a nice even, creamy white color.
2. Straight is good. Choose nice long and straight asparagus. Grade AA asparagus are usually 19-22 cm long
3. Length. Bringing us to our final tip: length! AA quality asparagus are 20-22 cm long!
Thinner, smaller asparagus with a slightly purple colored tip can have a watery taste or can even be a bit bitter.
So now that you have become an expert asparagus buyer, let’s see how many ways we can prepare it! I love “Asparagus a la Flamande” which literally means Flemish style asaparagus, served with diced boiled egg, boiled small potatoes and ham topped with clarified butter. Add salt and pepper to taste and finish with a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg, which enhances the asparagus flavor. The rich creamy flavour of good asaparagus can also be combined to create some more exciting, mouthwatering dishes. Take for example white asparagus risotto with Iberico ham, or white asparagus served with lamb tenderloin and a jus de veau, and for more extravagant options, top asparagus with foie gras and balsamic vineagar reduction.
The following is another easy recipe from my “Dinner in 30 minutes” series. Cooking time is within 30 minutes and with a bit savvy prepration strategy this makes a healthy and delicious variation to your every day meals!
serves 2
4 passionfruits
1 red chilly
8 large Tiger Prawns
12 white asparagus
2 twblespoons of passionfruit sirup
80 ml Rum
2 talespoons of clarified butter (you can also use normal salted butter)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Peel the asparagus, bring a pan to a boil and blanch the asparagus in 4-6 minutes. Place in bath with cold water to stop further cooking, which will retain the vegetable’s crispyness.
2. Peel the tiger prawns removing all shells but the heads, cut sideways to remove intestines. Marinate the prawns with your favourite seasoning such as cajun, garlic and parsley or piri piri.
Step 1 and 2 you can do in advance storing the boiled asaparagus and peeled raw prawns sealed in the fridge.
3. Grill the prawns and asaparagus on a barbecue grill or grilling pan
4. In the mean time puree the 4 passionfruits and save about 1 tablespoon for decoration.
5. Heat a skilled and add the puree, passionfruit syrup together with the seeded and diced red chilly. Let simmer and add the rum, let simmer for a couple more minutes before adding the butter. Stir well and add prawns to the sauce.
6. While the sauce simmers place the asparagus on a plate, 6 per person lenghtwise. Arrange 4 prawns per pereson on the asparagus and top with sauce. As a final touch add some fresh passionfruit which adds a bit more of the tangy flavour.
Try an exotic variation by adding 1 teaspoon of yellow curry powder to the sauce or the prawn marinade!
Bon apetit!

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