Recipe from Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc.

Along with new potatoes, asparagus is one of the most prized spring vegetables and marks the beginning of the season. There is nothing more exciting than seeing those first heads bursting through the soil.

Asparagus is very at home with two great classic sauces: hollandaise and mayonnaise, both of which I’ve included here. I can assure you that this hollandaise will not punish you in the way that a more traditional recipe might – it will be the lightest you will have tasted, containing only 50g of butter for four guests.


Ingredients Required

For the asparagus
20 Green asparagus spears, woody ends removed
For the hollandaise
3 Medium egg yolks
100ml Water
50g Unsalted butter, melted
1 pinch Sea salt
1/4 Juice of a lemon

Cooking Method

Prepare the asparagus

Using the tip of a sharp knife, remove the leaves and peel the ends.

For the hollandaise

Prepare a bain marie (i.e. a saucepan of barely-simmering water over a low heat). In a bowl set over the bain marie, whisk the egg yolks and water vigorously. As you whisk, you partly cook the sauce as well as bringing in lots of air bubbles and creating an emulsion. After about 10 minutes, you should have a beautifully expanded, light and lemon-coloured foam, about six or seven times its original volume. Pour in the melted butter and whisk briefly. Season with the salt and lemon juice and taste to correct the seasoning if necessary.

To cook the asparagus

The best way is to steam it as this will help it to better retain its flavour, colour and nutrients; it will take about 7 minutes on full steam. Alternatively, boil the asparagus for the same amount of time. Drain the asparagus on to a cloth then arrange on a serving dish. Either serve the hollandaise separately or spoon it over the spears.

Variation with mayonnaise

All the ingredients should be at room temperature. Put 2 medium egg yolks into a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard and very gradually whisk in 200ml of vegetable or rapeseed oil. The egg yolk contains lecithin, which will absorb the oil and create the perfect emulsion, provided you add the oil slowly. If it separates, either your oil is too cold or you added it too quickly. If so, move the mayonnaise to one side of the bowl and start to whisk in a little warm water in circles. If it is completely split, do the same using a little mustard, which also contains lecithin. Thin the emulsion with a tablespoon of lemon juice and season. Stir in a tablespoon of crème fraîche, taste and adjust the seasoning and thin further with water if necessary.


Kew Book 120THUMB

Recipe from Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc published by Headline Ltd.

Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2015.

Photograph © Jean Cazals 2015.