White Asparagus with Sauce Hollandaise is the German’s favorite spring dish! Harvested fresh from the fields and sold at farmers markets and the grocery in May and June, it marks the beginning of the warmer season.
It’s actually pretty crazy how people react to the asparagus season. One might think they hadn’t eaten during the entire winter. There are asparagus celebrations and farms, that grow asparagus, host asparagus festivals (Spargel Fest). Friends are invited to eat asparagus together, recipes are exchanged, and everyone talks about where they recently got the best, freshest asparagus. I am usually not one of these people but that didn’t keep me from buying white asparagus when I saw it at our grocery. Finally, I can show you some German asparagus recipes!
Video: How to cook White Asparagus & Sauce Hollandaise
Difference White Asparagus to Green Asparagus
The difference is, how they are grown. While it is the same plant, the green asparagus can just grow out of the soil and be harvested by cutting it at the stem. Growing white asparagus is a little more complicated: It grows in the soil, meaning that the soil is piled up and also covered with a thick plastic foil that keeps the sunlight away. This way, the asparagus won’t create chlorophyll and stay white. It is very labor intensive to harvest. And because it is growing in the soil, the skin of the white asparagus is much tougher, making it necessary to peel the stalks before cooking.
Traditional Ways To Eat Asparagus
There are so many asparagus recipes that people make but the most common way we eat it is with some potatoes, smoked ham (Schinken), and Sauce Hollandaise. This is what we had when I grew up. The other recipe that is very common, is White Asparagus Cream Soup (Spargelcreme Suppe).
A sauce Hollandaise has its origin in France, although the name “Hollandaise” seems to refer to Holland. It is an oil-in-water emulsion made with clarified butter. I have tried to make this sauce many times and failed most of the time until I learned how to make it properly. Most recipes don’t really explain the technic and the necessary temperature, so often the sauce is coagulating. But even if that happens to you, there is a fix! More about that a little later.
There are also recipes for Fake Hollandaise out there which are basically roux with egg yolk and butter.
To make real Hollandaise, the clarified butter needs to be melted and kept at a temperature of about 73°C / 165°F. The sauce is assembled over simmering water and there is a lot of whisking involved (as you can see in the video). The water and the butter are alternating added to the egg yolks and you must be careful that the sauce is not getting too hot. You must take it off the heat frequently while whisking. I highly recommend watching my video, the sauce is explained at 5:44.
How to make Clarified Butter (Ghee)
You can buy clarified butter as Ghee at the store. I make mine easily from scratch: 4 butter sticks (about 500 g) are put in a zip lock bag and put into hot water. When the butter in the bag has melted, put it into the fridge until it is solid again. The milk fat will collect at the bottom of the bag. With a scissor, cut the corner of the bag to release the milkfat, also scratch off additional milk fat from the butter lump. Store the ghee in an airtight container in the fridge until used.
How to Rescue Coagulated Sauce Hollandaise
If at any point while or after preparing the sauce, the egg and the butter separate, it means your sauce has coagulated. It’s sad to look at but don’t panic, there is an easy fix! Just whisk another egg yolk in a new bowl with a little water and then slowly drizzle in the coagulated sauce while constantly whisking. The sauce will come together again and look perfectly.
Share This Recipe on Pinterest
How to cook white Asparagus
- 2 kg White Asparagus
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp. Butter
- 3 tbsp. Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Sugar
- Wash the Asparagus and with a peeler, remove the outer skin from each stem but leaving the asparagus heads untouched.
- Cut off about ¾ of an inch from the bottom or as much as needed to remove the tough area.
- In a large pot or asparagus steamer, bring water to a boil.
- Bundle the asparagus to 4 to 8 bundles and wrap some kitchen twine around each bundle to hold it together.
- Put the asparagus into the boiling water and reduce the heat so it stops boiling but stays close to simmering.
- Add the salt, sugar, butter, and lemon juice to the water.
- After 12 to 15 minutes, the asparagus should be soft. Test it by poking into a stem with a pointed knife. If it easily goes into the stem, the asparagus is cooked through.
- Remove the asparagus from the water, cut the twine and serve.
How to make Sauce Hollandaise
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 25 ml Lemon Juice
- 50-100 ml Water more or less might be needed
- some Salt
- 250 g Clarified Butter at 73°C / 165°F aka Ghee
- Heat a pot with about 1 inch / 2 cm of water and bring to a boil.
- In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg yolks with a little bit of water.
- Place the bowl on top of the hot water and continue to whisk constantly. The egg yolks with thicken after a while and the yellow color becomes brighter. You might need to take the bowl off the pot every now and then to make sure the yolks don't get too hot.
- When the yolks have a brighter color and thickened, take the bowl down and add a little bit of water and whisk it in. Then carefully drizzle some of the clarified butter into the liquid, keep whisking all the time!
- Get the bowl back on the pot and whisk for a bit, then repeat the previous step until the clarified butter has been implemented into the sauce. You might need less water than listed in the ingredients, just keep looking at the consistency of the sauce.
- Once the sauce is ready, keep it warm until serving.
How to rescue a coagulated Sauce Hollandaise
- If for any reason your sauce coagulated, you can whisk an egg yolk with a little water in a bowl and then slowly drizzle the coagulated sauce into this bowl while whisking. This will bring the sauce back together. If you are out of egg yolks, it can also work with just some water instead.