by Bernard Lahousse
on May 5, 2015

Cooking with white asparagus

The white asparagus is at its best this time of the year. So put this seasonal spring vegetable on your menu! Let's have a look at the Foodpairing potential of this "white gold" and explore some inspiring pairings.

The white asparagus is most common and native to continental Northwestern Europe, but is widely cultivated as a vegetable crop. Compared to green asparagus, it tends to be sweeter and more bitter in taste.

asparagus aroma wheel flavour directions aroma connections white asparagus

Looking at the aromawheel of white asparagus, the most important aroma directions are green, spicy and herbal. (This does not mean we can't make pairings working in the less present aroma directions! You can use the aroma filter in the Foodpairing Inspiration Tool to work on this level). Let's have a closer look at some pairings and see why they work.

White asparagus - coffee - mussel

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White asparagus and coffee share green aromas and also some spicy notes, that remind of vanilla essence (when looking for herbs & spices with the Foodpairing Inspiration Tool you'll see that vanilla and asparagus have a match).

Preparations: Make your asparagus soup according to art and best practices, garnish with lightly cooked mussels and finish with freshly ground coffee.

White asparagus - pine (nuts)

asparagus pine nuts tahoon cress

Amongst the wide category of herbal aromas in asparagus, we find mushroom-like aromas, but also the smell of cooked potato and cabbage. A specific type of herbal aromas, the so-called 'pinenes', remind of pine tree. Combining your asparagus with pine nuts or even pine shoots therefore simply works.

Preparations: Cook the asparagus al dente; if available, add some young pine shoots to the cooking liquid for extra pine-theme enforcement. Place the asparagus in a deep plate. Season the cooking liquid and pour it over the asparagus. Spoon a few drops chorizo oil over this and garnish with toasted pine nuts.

White asparagus - raspberry - dark chocolate - rhubarb

Raspberry and white asparagus both contain floral aromas, reminding of rose perfume. It's floral notes will make asparagus a great companion for fruits & vegetables such as raspberry, lychee or rhubarb. Therefore it lends itself also to desserts.

asparagus rapsberry dark chocolate rhubarb

In this chocolate dessert we'll use the white asparagus raw.View the full recipe here

The impact of cooking methods on the flavour of asparagus

Asparagus is prepared and served in a number of ways around the world. In Asian-style cooking, asparagus is often stir-fried. Asparagus may also be grilled over charcoal, used in some stews and soups, but even raw as a component of a salad. This vegetable can even be pickled and stored for several years. The typical Flemish way, 'à la Flamande', would be to cook them (combined with melted butter, eggs and parsley). All these different cooking techniques will have an impact on the asparagus' flavour and aromas.

Most aroma-molecules in asparagus dissolve easily in water. This means while cooking, the asparagus releases some of its aromas.

Hence it's a great vegetable to make flavourful stews, bouillons and soups. A little trick to maintain as much flavour as possible while cooking them: bake your asparagus shortly in oil or butter before cooking; this layer of fat will reduce the loss of aroma molecules.

Discover more pairings with white asparagus on the Foodpairing website

food pairing inspiration tool combinations with asparagus

by Bernard Lahousse
Scientist, food aficionado and Foodpairing® founder Bernard Lahousse applies his scientific approach to food innovation and extends his knowledge to chefs and bartenders all over the world.

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