It’s time~! Time for hubby and me to shamelessly overindulge in one of Spring’s most wonderful products, our region’s prized asparagus! Countless ways to prep and serve them – all of them rather healthy, even with the occasional drop of Hollandaise – ranging from simple every-day quick-fixes to wow-your-crowd or lover’s-dinner stunners.
As I’ve mentioned in last year’s GW2-inspired Steak & Asparagus recipe, one of my favorite “Special” asparagus pairings involves beef in one form or another. As I was strolling across the farmer’s market last saturday, with a simple Asparagus-Vinaigrette-Crêpe parcel dinner-plan in mind, my inner vampire decided to rear its head and thoroughly stomp the veggie plans for the day. Fine by me, I say, what with my trusted butcher’s market truck right next to a beautiful display of asparagus. Keeping the general idea of an asparagus and vinaigrette combo, I swapped the crêpes for a mouthwateringly pretty piece of beef fillet and twisted the whole package into a Steak & Asparagus V.2.0 for you guys~! So, once again, this little Tyrian recipe…
… get’s a make-over, Nahdala-style~! Here’s what you’ll need for 2 servings as a main or 3-4 starters~
The Coriander Mayonnaise
2 Egg Yolks
2 Tsp milk Mustard
1 Tsp White Balsamic Vinegar
120-150ml Grapeseed Oil
1 Bund Koriander
3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
3 Tsp roasted Sesame Seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste
Just a word in advance~ this one will end up being more on the vinaigrette side of things, consistency-wise, than thick and creamy like a true Mayonnaise, so don’t worry if the sauce turns out runnier than you might have expected~
1) Add the egg yolks, mustard and vinegar to a mixing bowl.
2) Pick up a whisk and beat the mixture until everything is well combined.
3) Add a few drops of the oil and incorporate them into the mixture, then start adding it in a slow and steady trickle while keeping up the whisk-work.
4) Once you’ve worked your way through about 100ml of the oil, start paying attention to the consistency. Your goal for this part of the exercise is ending up with a thick, custardy mayonnaise – just a bit thicker than you would usually expect a mayonnaise to be.
5) Move the mayo into a stick-blender-friendly container, add the coriander leaves, soy sauce and sesame seeds.
6) Turn on it, armed with your stick blender, and blitz the lot into a pale green, smooth sauce.
7) Have a taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
8) Place the container in the fridge for the time being and move on to the veggies~
The Asparagus Salad
200g Green Asparagus, bottom third of the spears peeled and woody bits removed
200g White Asparagus, peeled and woody bits removed
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Honey
1 Pinch of Fine-Grained Sea Salt
Fleur de Sel and freshly cracked Black Pepper
1) Pour the oil into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the honey along with a pinch of fine sea salt.
2) Pick up your white asparagus spears and diagonally slice them into ½-1cm thick disks.
3) Add the slices to the bowl and gently turn them over in the marinade until all of the pieces are evenly coated.
4) Fire up a griddle or pan on high heat.
5) Once a slice of marinated asparagus immediately starts to sizzle on contact with the pan, add the lot – preferably in one layer to make sure they’re evenly cooked.
6) Fry them for 30-45 secs on each side, then tip them out into a cold bowl of sorts to cool them down quickly in order to keep them from overcooking.
7) Sprinkle them with a couple of fleur de sel flakes and a crack or two of black pepper, then set the bowl aside.
8) Use a veggie-peeler to lengthwise “peel” the green asparagus into thin ribbons. Keep the heads as they are – simply slice them in halves in case you’re dealing with exceptionally large specimen.
9) Place them in a colander and douse them with a water-cooker-load of boiling water to blanch them the lazy way or use a more conventional pot-on-the-stove strategy to achieve the same result.
10) You’ll want these ribbons to retain a bit of a bite, that’s why I moved on to the boiling-water-shower method – somehow I always overcooked them rather than just blanching them whenever I used a pot…
11) Whichever path you’ve taken them down, douse them with cold water right after their hot treatment to stop the cooking process.
12) Have them join the white asparagus pieces in their bowl once the majority of the water has dripped off.
300g Fillet of Beef – preferably the Tail End, but a piece of the Filet Mignon or the Middle Section works as well. It’s served and eaten raw, so skimping on the quality of the piece you’re using isn’t an option here.
1 Tsp Lemon Zest
Fleur de Sel
1 heaped Tbsp of finely chopped Chives
1 Pinch of Chilli Flakes
A good crack of Black Pepper
4 Quail’s Eggs
1) Get the soft-centered quail’s eggs out of the way first. Set a pot of water onto medium-high heat and bring the water up to a gentle boil.
2) Add the eggs and leave to their own devices for 3 mins.
3) Move them into a bowl filled with chilled, preferably ice-cubed, lightly salted water.
4) Tap them a little to break the shells but don’t peel them just yet – by doing that, the water will slowly make its way into the inside, making it easier to peel them later.
5) Moving on to the star of the dish~!
6) At this point, you’ve got two options depending on your personal priorities.
7) The Lazy-Way: Ask your trusted butcher for the tail end of a fillet and have him work it through his meat grinder to turn it into a coarse Tartare. Well-sorted butcher’s shops sometimes offer ready-ground Tartare, but it does add a measure of comfort to see what’s actually going into the grinder if you’re planning on eating raw meat… maybe that’s just my food-hoodwink-paranoia speaking, though, so don’t let that keep you from following your butcher’s recommendation.
8) The Slightly-Less-Lazy-Way: Ask your trusted butcher for the tail end of a fillet and take it home with you. Pat it dry with a paper towel and use a very sharp knife to slice – not wildly chop! – it into fine cubelets. The reason to put in a little bit more effort into this is simple: it’s a texture-thing. Grinding the fillet involves a good deal of squishing an extremely tender and lean piece of meat which can easily turn out as a rather pulpy, sticky blend in the end. Think along the lines of the coarse, raw filling of a freshly stuffed sausage – while it may taste delicious, the soft texture might put an end to your delight after 2-3 bites. So, to make sure the texture closes the deal of deliciousness, I’d advise you to put your knife to good use at this point.
9) Place the cubes – or ready-prepped Tartare – in a mixing bowl.
10) Gently fold in the lemon zest, chives, chilli flakes and a generous sprinkling of Fleur de Sel and black pepper.
Assembling the Dish
1) Place two serving rings on your plates and divide the Tartare into them.
2) Lightly press the Tartare into the rings – just enough to get it into shape without squishing it.
3) Remove the rings and use a toothpick or wooden skewer to poke the surface of the Tatare, all the way down to the plate, in regular intervals.
4) Drizzle 1-2 Tsp of the Coriander Mayonnaise on top of each Steak Tartare – if you go about this slowly, the previously created “channels” will distribute the dressing through your steak without souping up in one spot or another.
5) Arrange the asparagus slices and ribbons around the Tartare and drizzle it with a couple of teaspoonfuls of the dressing as well.
6) Peel the eggs, slice them in halves with a very sharp knife and dot your plates with the halves.
7) Top the servings off with the coriander leaves and dig in~