Steamed Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
Hollandaise is what the French call a “mother sauce,” meaning that it can be transformed into other sauces by adding just a few ingredients (tarragon, pepper, and shallots — béarnaise; mustard — Dijonnaise; orange concentrate — maltaise, etc).
INGREDIENTS | SERVES 6
- 3 egg yolks
- Juice of 1 lemon (about ¼ cup), divided
- 1 tablespoon plus a few drops of cold water
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) melted butter
- Pinch of cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody bottoms trimmed off
In a large, steel mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water, or in a double boiler over a very low flame, whisk together the yolks, half of the lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon cold water. Whisk vigorously until the yolks attain a lemon-yellow color and become thick (about the consistency of creamy salad dressing). Be careful not to let the eggs cook into lumps — keep whisking all the time, and remove the bowl from the heat if it starts getting too hot.
Once yolks are ready, set the bowl they are in onto a damp towel on a firm surface. Whisk in a few drops of cold water, then a few drops of the melted butter. Gradually whip in the melted butter in small increments, making sure that each addition is thoroughly incorporated before adding any more.
Season with cayenne, salt, and remaining lemon juice.
Steam the asparagus for 5 minutes, until tender but still brightly colored. Divide onto plates; spoon hollandaise over the middle of the stalks.
With Asparagus, Thin Ain't Always In
Fat-n-sweet or thin and delicate, asparagus are one of the most sensuously delicious foods known to man. Contrary to popular belief, thick, voluptuous asparagus are not always woody and tough. In fact, they can have much more natural juiciness, sweetness, and silky texture than the pencil-thin variety. Check the cut bottoms of asparagus for freshness, making sure they're plump, moist, and recently cut. Wrinkled asparagus of any girth are no good.