How to Boil Asparagus in Salt Water

Asparagus Asparagus boiled in plenty of salt water forms the basis of all other extensions of the vegetable. They are often used as a garnish for a variety of dishes both hot and cold, as well as being served as a special dish in its own right. Sprue, which are the young shoots, are also often used as a garnish.

Makes: 10 portions. Cooking time: 15-20 minutes.

Ingredients:

— 60-80 sticks of prepared asparagus tied into portion sized bundles.
— 70 grams salt
— 6 liters boiling water

Method:

(1) Place the bundles of asparagus into gently simmering water using a shallow sided saucepan so that they may easily be removed once cooked.

(2) When cooked remove them carefully from the water, lifting each bundle by the string with the point of a knife.

(3) Serve on a special asparagus dish with an inset drainer.

(4) Remove the string with a sharp knife, cutting away from the direction of the tips.

To test if cooked
Gently remove a sample bundle by lifting it out of the water with the point of a knife under the string taking care not to damage the delicate points. Test by pressing between the fingers just below the tip or point — they should be firm yet yield to finger pressure.

Retention
Place the cooked bundles in a receptacle of ice cold water to bring down the temperature immediately and prevent further cooking When cold remove from the water and place on a stainless steel plastic or earthenware container that has been lined with a damp cloth. Cover with a damp cloth or cling film and store in : refrigerator at 8°C.

Reheating
(1) Place the tied bundles in a chaudfont until the asparagus is hot.

(2) Gently remove from the water, lifting each bundle by the string with the point of a knife.

(3) Serve on a special asparagus dish with an inset drainer.

(4) Remove the string with a sharp knife, cutting away from the direction of the tips.

Note:
Asparagus may also be served on a silver flat dish lined with a dish paper with a folded napkin on top of the dish paper. The end of the napkin is folded over the stems of the vegetables to just below the tips. If served in this way they should be placed onto a cloth to dry before they are served on the napkin.

Assessment of the completed dish

(1) The asparagus tips should be hot.

(2) The asparagus should be a pleasant green color unless it is the French type (Argenteuil) which is rather white.

(3) The asparagus should be cooked until nutty. The correct seasoning should be apparent.

(4) All the tips or points should be pointing in the same direction and the vegetables should be of an even length. None should be broken or damaged.

(5) If served on a cloth napkin there should be no traces of water on the cloth.

(6) The correct size of standard portion should be served. (Generally 2-3 sprue are suitable as a garnish and 6-8 tips are suitable depending on their thickness when serving asparagus as a separate dish.)

Possible problem, cause and solution:

(1) Sand in the tips of the asparagus:
— asparagus not properly washed before cooking; care must be taken to wash the asparagus thoroughly during preparation as this is difficult to rectify except by continuously changing the refreshing water – this is not always effective as the sand can penetrate to the tips.

(2) Asparagus is poor in color:
— asparagus was not stored correctly; care must be taken to store asparagus correctly as it is an expensive vegetable needing careful treatment to avoid problems at a later stage which cannot be rectified.

— asparagus was overcooked; care must be taken to cook the vegetable for the correct length of time as this problem cannot be rectified.

— asparagus left in the cooking liquid after cooking or reheating; care must be taken to avoid this as the problem cannot be rectified.

— asparagus held too long once cooked; the vegetable should be prepared as close as possible to the time it is required to avoid the problems caused by prolonged retention.

— asparagus retained under poor refrigeration; care must be taken to follow the correct procedure for retention as this problem cannot be rectified.

— water used for cooking or reheating has been used before; care must be taken to avoid this as the problem cannot be rectified.

— asparagus held too long once served; care must be taken to avoid this as the problem
cannot be rectified.

(3) Asparagus tips have broken:
— asparagus has been overcooked; care must be taken to cook the vegetable for the correct length of time as this problem cannot be rectified.

— asparagus has been poorly handled during storage, preparation or cooking; careful treatment is required at all times as asparagus is an expensive and delicate vegetable.

(4) Flavor of the asparagus is impaired:
– insufficient salt in the water used for cooking or reheating, care must be taken over this aspect as the problem cannot be rectified.

— asparagus has been under or overcooked; care must be taken to cook the asparagus for the correct length of time as this problem cannot be rectified.

— asparagus has been left in the cooking water for too long once cooked; care must be taken to avoid this as the problem cannot be rectified.

— asparagus retained for too long once cooked or after being served; care must be taken 10 avoid this as the problem cannot be rectified.

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