Sunday, April 23, 2006

Asparagus With Miso Butter and Poached Eggs

This is a dish to serve to someone that you're trying to seduce. It is so wonderful, and so gratifying, that I can not imagine anyone saying no to its preparer.

The secret, of course, is an ungodly amount of fat. This recipe, from the NY Times's Mark Bittman, combines Japanese methods and flavors with the old French technique of compound butter. Compound butter comes from the idea that anything that tastes good would taste a hell of a lot better if it was melted in a pan with a half pound of butter. It's a brilliant concept, and one of several reasons the French have long been considered masters of culinary arts.

Like the others on this site, this a simple recipe. Miso, the only unusual ingredient, should be available in Asian supermarkets, health food stores, and gourmet shops.

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 eggs
4 tablespoons oil
1 pound asparagus, bottoms cut off
Salt and pepper
¼ cup not-too-salty miso, preferably white
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
2 poached (or warm-bath-cooked) eggs.

Poaching Eggs: (this can be done before the rest of the meal, or while the asparagus is cooking)

1. Bring an inch of water to boil in skillet, add salt and vinegar, and lower heat so it barely bubbles. One at a time, break eggs into a shallow bowl and slip into simmering water. Cover skillet or spoon water over eggs.

2. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, just until white is set and yolk has filmed over. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Asparagus and Miso Butter:

1. Put oil or fat in skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Add as much asparagus as will fit in a layer, add salt and pepper to taste, and toss and stir until browned and shriveled, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, over low heat in a small saucepan, warm and whisk together miso and butter, so they combine, and butter softens but does not melt. Whisk in vinegar and keep warm. Warm a serving plate.

3. When asparagus is done, put some miso butter on bottom of serving plate. Blot excess fat from asparagus if you like, put on top of the miso butter, and top with poached eggs. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

From New York Times, 4/19/06

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