Friday, May 30, 2008

Spring Break: Asparagus Gone Wild!

Late last week we received a special shipment of wild asparagus from our 'not-to-be-named' truffle supplier. He'd managed to source it from somewhere outside of Australia and turned it over to us for roughly $100/kg. For wonderfully fresh and herbaceous young shoots that are available for only one month of the year, the going rate isn't really too much to ask.
Chonz decided that he wanted a dish centred on simplicity which would allow the quality of the produce to shine so for two days we ran with what we had in the bag - asparagus, eggs and cheese.

All up we used five components to create this dish. Wild asparagus, morcilla (locally made Spanish blood sausage), champagne beurre blanc, a poached duck egg and a little grated Manchego (imported from La Mancha, Spain) over the top. The simplicity of ingredients and the quality resonates from the very first taste until the last. You'll see.

The champagne buerre blanc is the most time consuming so we'll start with that. You'll need to melt a small knob of butter and sweat off 2 finely chopped eschallots with a pinch of salt, a bay leaf and a few cracks of white pepper (so as not to be left with dirty flecks in the final sauce). Pour in 50 ml of champagne vinegar, 250 ml of champagne and reduce at a simmer until you are left with about 25 ml of liquid. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and add 200 g of chopped butter a little at a time, whisking continuously until emulsified. You can stabilise it at this point by adding a small splash of cream, totally optional. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Have a small pot full of salted water ready to poach your egg in and another with enough seasoned chicken stock to blanch the asparagus in with a few knobs of butter thrown in. Working quickly now, slice the morcilla into thick rounds and pan fry them in a little oil over medium-high heat. With a little swirl, slip the duck egg into gently simmering water and immerse all the asparagus in the chicken stock until soft.

To assemble, pour a little champagne beurre blanc onto the plate. Pile the slices of morcilla onto one side and the drained asparagus onto the other. Carefully lift your poached egg into the centre and grate a generous amount of Manchego over the top.

When you first attack the egg, the semi-cooked yolk will ooze out and combine with the now melting Manchego to create a lusciously cheesy sauce. As if in an out-of-body experience, you will begin a quick attempt to drink up every inch of this gooey goodness with what little is left on your plate.
Do you see now?


  1. Firstly, love the blog. Great to see some behind the scenes chef action first hand and hear about the goodies you get to play with.

    Second, where do you work ? I will fly there to eat your wild asparagus and poached duck egg. god dammit.

    Though why no vinegar in the egg poaching ?

  2. Aww.. Shucks, thanks!
    I work at a newly established modern Spanish tapas restaurant in Sydney called Catalonia. I sure hope you don't live far :P
    Vinegar assists in holding the egg proteins together when it's all dumped in the water but it's not completely necessary. I just don't like my poached eggs to taste like vinegar.

  3. this is a wonderful use of a rare ingredient, and a most interesting read. i gave up vinegar for poaching eggs several years ago, and haven't had a single problem - the real key is using fresh eggs. i've just been reading through your very interesting blog and am happy to have found it.


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