BENGALURU : My journey so far has been enterprising. I found something that gives me immense pleasure and joy. A unique ingredient that I have come across in my culinary journey is green asparagus. It’s called the royal vegetable.Native to Europe, North America and North Africa, now, it’s grown across the world with genetically modified cultivation. It’s a bulb from the onion family. The stem is green colour which shoots out of ground. The plant has small leaves which are like small sharp spikes. It has more medicinal value than any other vegetable.
It is important to maintain the crunchiness of the asparagus while cooking. Cooking asparagus to the required crispiness and colour is the trick of the trade. The bottom of the asparagus is comparatively firm, peeling the skin at the bottom of the stem can make it brittle and edible without leaving any residue that can get stuck in your teeth while chewing. Flash cooking is required to cook it where you dip the asparagus in hot boiling water and then give it a shock with ice cold water to arrest cooking.
If you leave it in boiling water for long, it will discolour and become limp. Asparagus has no distinct flavour, it takes the one which is added to it. The most typical one which goes with this is the nutty butter flavour.I learned to make the dish Charlotte of Asparagus at the Taj Coromandel, Chennai. It is prepared with blue cheese soufflé.
It looks like a crown of asparagus tips with soft blue cheese soufflé filled in the centre, topped with fried angel hair leeks greens. Many attempts were made. Getting the cylindrical shape was the toughest. I then realised that the asparagus can be stuck against a cylindrical mould from inside and then demould it before it gets served. This method worked. However, while the service was getting done, the asparagus was falling off. So, I tied a green leaf of spring onion around it to hold the vegetable.
– Chef Prabhakar Nagaraj, Managing Partner, Elior India