The British Asparagus season begins officially on the 24th April and, at Truro Farmer’s Market, those eagerly anticipated green shoots are now making an appearence, courtesy of Tregassow Asparagus of St Erme.
British asparagus (which was once classified as part of the lily family) is the best in the world as the UK climate allows it to develop slowly, producing a full, sweet flavour and a fine, tender texture. However the season is short as well as sweet, and will be long gone by the end of June.
Our chefs greet these short weeks enthusiastically, with asparagus appearing on menus in every form imaginable, and diners indulging until the very last stem is dipped in a perfectly poached egg or smothered in hollandaise (the British apparently spent over £23 million on asparagus in 2012, we don’t export any!)
To give you a few ideas for what to do with yours, we spoke to one of our favourite chefs, Emily Scott of The Harbour Kitchen. Here is Emily’s recipe.
Port Isaac Crab with Local Asparagus
“The sweet white crab meat and nutty, slightly tart asparagus are complemented by the rich mayonnaises,” says Emily.
200g/7oz hand-picked fresh white crab meat / 4 asparagus stems / juice of a lemon 1 tsp lemon zest / 1 fl oz extra-virgin olive oil sea salt /freshly ground black pepper
For the lemon mayonnaise
3 egg yolks /tbsp dijon mustard /juice of 1 lemons /sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 500ml/17fl oz of gentle extra-virgin olive oil
To finish 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
Prepare the mayonnaise – Place the egg yolks into a blender with the lemon juice and a little salt and pepper and combine. Slowly pour the oil through the funnel in the top with the blender running, drip by drip, until it is amalgamated, forming the mayonnaise. Set aside while you cook the asparagus.
Place a large pot of water on to boil and season liberally with salt. While the water is coming to the boil, prepare the asparagus by snapping off their woody ends. Plunge the vegetables into the water and cook until just tender when pierced with a knife. Cooking time will largely depend on the size and thickness of the spears, but as a general rule of thumb, it should take 1 minute.
Place the crab in a mixing bowl. Pick over to remove any shell. Wash and pat dry the asparagus. Slice finely on the bias, discarding the tough, woody end. Place in the bowl along with the crab, add the lemon juice, zest and olive oil and toss lightly to combine. Season with a good pinch of salt and a couple of grindings of black pepper.
Finish with the parsley and divide between four plates. Spoon over the mayonnaise, and serve with extra lemon.
Emily will be hosting a supper club at The Hay Studio on the 31st May. To find out more click here.
More asparagus recipes from our favourite chefs to follow!