09:00 Tuesday 09 July 2013

The joy of asparagus

Written byMarcus Bean

TV chef MARCUS BEAN talks about the asparagus season and what it means to him and chefs across the country.

ASPARAGUS is like Christmas Day for chefs and foodies when the first bunches of asparagus arrive in the kitchen. One of the things I love about British asparagus is that it’s seasonal, fresh and tastes fantastic.
   
As a country we don't export any of it, we keep it all for ourselves — that shows how good it really is! For the few months that asparagus is available it never leaves my menu, and why should it? "I think one of the reasons everyone loves British asparagus so much is down to its universality — it works brilliantly in many of our favourite dishes, from breakfast through to dinner. There is so much you can do with it and it’s quick and simple. My customers look forward to the season with real anticipation and ask me when it’s coming. When it finally arrives it goes straight onto my menu and doesn’t leave until the last bunch is eaten.
   
British asparagus is the best in the world.
   
To be sure you’re getting the best of the best, check out the colour — the freshest asparagus is a really vibrant green. The heads are also important — make sure they are nice and tight. And look for a clean ’snap’ when breaking the root, which proves just how fresh it is.
   
My all-time favourite way with asparagus is chargrilled. Whether on the BBQ or under the kitchen grill, I love the smoky flavour and great bite. It’s so easy — just a bit of butter and a sprinkle of salt and it’s perfect.
   
My two girls love asparagus, but I know it’s not always easy to convince kids to try something new. The key is to think like them — make it fun and let them get involved in the making. My girls love it as an ingredient on home-made pizza, for example. Or, try steamed ’asparagus soldiers’ with dippy eggs. After all, who doesn’t love dippy eggs?!
   
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