French Cuisine: Asparagus With Orange Sauce Asperges Sauce Maltaise
The white asparagus found in France is considered a delicacy by , although it doesn’t have the intense flavour of the green. White and large green spears are best peeled.
- 175 g/6 oz/3/4 cup unsalted butter, diced
- 3 egg yolks
- 15 ml/1 tbsp cold water
- 15 ml/1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Grated rind and juice of 1 unwaxed orange
- Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
- 30-36 thick asparagus spears
- A few shreds of orange rind, to garnish
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat; do not boil. Skim off any foam and set aside.
- In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water or in the top of a double boiler, whisk together the egg yolks, water, lemon juice, 15 ml/l tbsp of the orange juice and season with salt. Place the saucepan or double boiler over a very low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and the whisk begins to leave tracks on the base of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Whisk in the melted butter, drop by drop until the sauce begins to thicken, then pour it in a little more quickly, leaving behind the milky solids at the base of the pan. Whisk in the orange rind and 30—60 ml/ 2—4 tbsp of the orange juice. Season with salt and cayenne pepper and keep warm, stirring occasionally.
- Cut off the tough ends from the asparagus spears and trim to the same length. If peeling, hold each spear gently by the tip, then using a vegetable peeler, strip off the peel and scales from just below the tip to the end. Rinse in cold water.
- Fill a large deep frying pan or wok with 5 cm/2 in of water and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and bring back to the boil, then simmer for 4—7 minutes, until just tender.
- Carefully transfer the spears to a large colander to drain, then lay them on a tea towel and pat dry. Arrange on a large serving platter or individual places and spoon over a little sauce. Scatter the orange rind over the sauce and serve at once. #COOK’S TIP# This sauce is a kind of hollandaise and needs gentle treatment. If the egg yolk mixture thickens too quickly, remove from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into cold water to prevent the sauce from curdling. The sauce should keep over hot water for 1 hour, but don’t let it get too hot.