Asparagus is the ultimate taste of Spring. From late April the Bilton household eagerly awaits signs of the first green sentinels peeking through the humus. Our asparagus patch isn’t large and doesn’t yield a great deal. But what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. Fresh asparagus cut and plunged into simmering water for a few minutes is sweet and grassy. It bears no resemblance to the limp specimens you see in the supermarkets. Unfortunately, the topsy turvy weather in Britain this Spring has played havoc with the harvest but if you can find British asparagus buy it quick before the season finishes.
This recipe is inspired by a Thai dish known as Son-in-law Eggs. There are numerous amusing stories surrounding its origins (see this blog for a couple of them) but the dish itself is a simple combination of hard boiled eggs, crispy shallots and a sweet and sour tamarind dressing. I thought these flavours would work well with asparagus and have kept it meat free in honour of National Vegetarian Week.
Serves 2 as a light lunch
- 2 large eggs
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 shallots, finely sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 250g asparagus spears, washed
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 25g roasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
- 1 small red chilli, finely sliced (optional)
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar or palm sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- To make the dressing place all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool. The brand of paste I used was quite runny. This blog shows you how to make your own tamarind paste. If you feel the dressing is too thick add a little water until you achieve a drizzling consistency.
- Poach the eggs until the white is firm but the yolk is still runny. I’ll leave you to decide how best to do this. This article provides different options for poaching eggs. Remove the eggs from the hot water and place in a bowl of cold water until required.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a small frying pan. Fry the sliced shallots over a medium heat. As it starts to turn golden add the sliced garlic. Continue to cook until the garlic is golden stirring frequently. Keep a close eye on it as garlic burns easily and turns bitter as a result.
- Remove the woody part of the asparagus spears. Place in a roasting tin then add thesesame oil, sesame seeds and season with salt and pepper. Toss the spears until they are coated in the sesame mix. Roast for 5 – 7 minutes (depending on the thickness of the spears) until just tender.
- Heat some vegetable oil in a deep fat fryer to 180°C. Drain the eggs and carefully place them into the frying basket. Gently lower the basket into the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes until the eggs are crisp and golden.
- To serve, divide the asparagus between two plates. Sprinkle with the shallots and garlic then top with an egg. Drizzle with the tamarind dressing and sprinkle with cashews and chilli (if using). Serve immediately.