Looking for a creative way to prepare Asparagus?

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by: Christopher Massad

Chris started his career in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. After finishing college in Boulder, he helped to open Matsuhisa's Vail. He later moved west and worked at top sushi establishments like Sushi Ran, Pabu and Akiko's in the Bay Area. With a strong ambition to further his culinary education, he enrolled in a culinary program in Kyoto, Japan. His experience includes working for a third generation Michelin starred restaurant in Tokyo. With an extensive background in Japanese washoku and sushi, Chris is the Executive Chef of Kampai restaurant opening in Jackson Hole, Wyoming late summer 2021.

Have you ever pondered working in a professional kitchen, transitioning to the food industry or becoming a chef? Gain valuable insight from our interview with Chris Massad on What it takes to become a professional chef.

White Asparagus with a Creamy Mascarpone Tofu Sauce

White asparagus is one of those ingredients that conjures certain images in my head. I start to think about white table cloths, creamy chicken liver pate, Kobe beef sold by the ounce and butter poached lobsters. Nearly, everything on the menu is sourced from a farm, sustainably fished or raised in a natural environment. I guess the word is “fancy”. High end, fine dining, skilled chefs and not just a meal, but an experience. However, these days white asparagus is not that hard to find. Most local grocery stores carry this on a regular basis, sometimes in the organic food section. It does carry a decent price tag because it is labor intensive, but so does green asparagus as well. What exactly is white asparagus?


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White Asparagus

White asparagus is the result of asparagus that is grown without sunlight. The pigment chlorophyll is a requirement for photosynthesis to occur. When plants interact with the sun, chlorophyll is responsible for the green color that we see. So, in the case of white asparagus, farmers intentionally grow the vegetable beneath the soil and harvest while it is still dark. They are still very similar to their green counterparts. As a low-calorie food, they contain antioxidant properties, B vitamins, calcium, vitamin K, essential minerals and folate. White asparagus does have a tough outer skin that requires peeling. Once cooked, it has a natural sweetness and superior tenderness. It pairs well with lemon, cheeses and most commonly hollandaise sauce. With Valentine’s Day coming up, this is the perfect starter for a memorable dinner at home.

top view of misc en place for white asparagus and creamy mascarpone tofu sauce

Cooking the White Asparagus

Trim and peel thick asparagus skin near base with a peeler. Heat a medium pot of boiling water, about 2 quarts or enough water to cover the asparagus. Add 4 grams (1 teaspoon) salt, then cook asparagus till tender. Approximately 8-10 minutes.

Prepare an ice bath while waiting.

top view of simmering white asparagus in a gas stove

Remove asparagus from heat, drain and shock in an ice bath for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

top front view of white asparagus in an ice bath

Heat 1 quart of boiling water in a small pot. Add tofu and cook for 5 minutes.

top view of simmering tofu on a gas stove

Remove tofu from water and press between paper towels to remove excess moisture.

front view of a plate with paper towel stacked on tofu to press out moisture

Blend tofu, sugar, 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon salt), mascarpone and dashi stock (see recipe).

front view of mini blender making mascarpone tofu sauce
top front view of mascarpone tofu sauce

Cut asparagus into 1″ or 1.5″ pieces and stack on the plate. Spoon the tofu sauce over the asparagus. Garnish with pink peppercorns and lemon zest. This dish will pair well with chicken nanbanzuke and steamed rice for a complete meal.

Is this dish vegetarian?

The answer is both yes and no. For the most part it is a vegetarian dish with a slight amount of dashi stock to thin out the sauce. Dashi stock is used in countless recipes for vegetarian applications in Japanese cuisine. In combination with dried kombu, it is considered the very essence of what some people refer to as umami. If you are on a very strict vegetarian diet or have a fish allergy, substitute with vegetable stock or water.

Follow Chris on Instagram @chefmasado.

Yield: 2 SERVINGS

White Asparagus with Creamy Tofu Sauce

top view of cooked white asparagus with a tofu mascarpone sauce and pink peppercorns

Tender white asparagus with a velvety sauce made from tofu and creamy marscapone cheese are a perfect start or side dish with your next meal.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch white asparagus
  • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
  • 150 grams (5.3 ounces) medium firm tofu
  • 40 grams (1.4 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 10 grams (2.4 teaspoons) sugar
  • 15 grams (1/2 fluid ounce) dashi
  • garnish: pink peppercorns
  • garnish: lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Trim and peel thick asparagus skin near base with a peeler
  2. Heat a medium pot of boiling water, about 2 quarts or enough to cover the asparagus. Add 4 grams (1 teaspoons) salt, then cook asparagus till tender. Approximately 8-10 minutes. Prepare an ice bath while waiting.
  3. Remove asparagus from heat, drain and shock in an ice bath for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 quart of boiling water in a small pot. Add tofu and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove tofu from water and press between paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  6. Blend tofu, sugar, 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) salt, mascarpone and dashi stock (see recipe).
  7. Cut asparagus into 1" or 1.5" pieces and stack on the plate.
  8. Spoon the tofu sauce over the asparagus.
  9. Garnish with pink peppercorns and lemon zest.

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