Allyson Gofton - Heavenly Hollandaise on Asparagus

Publish Date
Saturday, 31 October 2015, 1:15AM
By Allyson Gofton


If there is a vegetable favorued by the gods, surely it must be asparagus. Its short season and memorable taste make asparagus a somewhat lavish and extravagant vegetable, to be enjoyed while at its peak, simple cooked and presented so you can clearly feel as if you have been indulgent. Once beyond it’s best by date, asparagus can become quite tough and stringy, so when the first spears arrive on the shelves – right about now- enjoy them before age gets the better of them. 



Look for or fresh bright stems, that are firm and not wilted and floppy,  tightly furled tips , not broken and open and stems squeak! Fresh asparagus squeaks when rubbed together, old asparagus will not.  



Green stemmed of asparagus with its strong flavour should be a bright grass-green colour.  

White asparagus is really ivory in colour. It is grown under as mound of earth and only picked when the trips of the spear break through the earth, which is why the tips can be a darker in colour than the stems. It is  becoming more widely available, but for a very limited season.

Purple asparagus, which arrives on the shelves a few weeks after green asparagus  contains less fibre, but is sweeter than green asparagus. It does however loose some of it glorious regal colouring on cooking



As asparagus has a high water content it is apt to becoming dehydrated and going floppy quickly unless correctly stored. Buy asparagus spears in bundles. Trim the ends on reaching home and stand in about a 1cm depth of water in a deep container. Alternatively wrap in dampened absorbent paper.



Snap off the tough ends on older spears  - young ones really do not need this done and cook lightly so that asparagus remain crisp/tender. Peeling the lower 2/3rds of the stem is optional, though recommended on older stems. 



Asparagus is one of our most valuable natural sources of folate along with being an excellent source of anti-oxidants.


Asparagus’ flavour friends

Balsamic vinegar, butter, cheese, chervil, chicken, cream, dill,  eggs, garlic, ginger, ham, lemon, mustard, seafood, sesame, tarragon.

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
There is something delicious about butter sauces with asparagus and on Christmas Day, there is no better way to serve both.


2 kg asparagus

Hollandaise Sauce:
175 grams unsalted butter, melted
1/2 shallot, peeled and finely diced
4 peppercorns
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
3 egg yolks


  1. If the asparagus spears are thin, just snap the ends off. If the stalks are a little thicker, then peel the stalks from half way down to the end to ensure the spears are tender and not stringy.
  2. Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water (I use a large frying pan) for about 3-4 minute or until just crisp tender. Drain well and serve quickly with the Hollandaise Sauce poured over.

    Hollandaise Sauce:
  3. Put the shallots, peppercorns, vinegar and water in a saucepan and simmer over a low heat until reduced to 2 tablespoon of liquid. Drain.
  4. Melt the butter and keep warm. Mix the egg yolks with the strained, reduced vinegar in a double saucepan or heat-proof bowl.
  5. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and gradually whisk in the melted butter to make a thick sauce. Season with salt, white pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Cooks Tips:

  • If you find your Hollandaise is a little thick, whisk in a little hot water from the kettle.

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