White asparagus recipe with quick and easy Hollandaise sauce. This authentic German dish is enjoyed primarily during the harvest months for white asparagus and can be served as an appetizer, a decadent side dish or an entree when the portion size is sufficient and a bit of ham is added.
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About This White Asparagus Recipe
This is a classic German approach to how to cook white asparagus. It has been fine-tuned by generations of fans of the vegetable and is typically served drizzled with Hollandaise sauce or at least a bit of garlic butter sauce.
As its tender flesh cooks the white asparagus is gently flavored by a few simple additions to the boiling water. As soon as it is done, it is plated and smothered with a decadent, yet mildly seasoned Hollandaise. We have included a time and effort saving recipe for the sauce – it is literally no-fail. The contrast between the fresh tasting asparagus spears and the richness of the sauce accounts for much of the culinary delight of the dish.
We have also included a list of alternative traditional German ways to serve the white asparagus at the bottom of this post.
What is White Asparagus and What Does It Taste Like?
White asparagus is a pernnial known as Asparagus officinalis in Latin. The German name is Weißer Spargel, a literal translation of the English. It is cultivated primarily for its slender young shoots, but also for its ornamental foliage.
It is one of the world’s most desirable vegetables on account of its succulent texture and distinct flavor – a cross between mildly sweet and herbaceous.
What Is The Difference Between Green and White Asparagus?
White asparagus is only different from green asparagus because it is never exposed to sunlight – it is cultivated underground, covered by mounds of soil and also sheets of dark plastic.
This blockage prevents chlorophyll from absorbing light. Because photosynthesis does not take place the spears remain a pale, milky color.
To be harvested it must first be carefully dug out from the soil. This is a cumbersome manual process which accounts for its higher price.
GOOD TO KNOW: In Germany asparagus is typically harvested between early April and mid-June. White asparagus is favored over green. The white asparagus season is known as Spargelzeit. Its official end is June 24, also known as “Asparagus New Year”. The vegetable is so well-loved that there are entire festivals devoted to it during asparagus season – with music, dancing, wine and beer stalls and of course copious amounts of Weißer Spargel served with Hollandaise or lemon butter. Germany’s enthusiastic consumption of white asparagus exceeds the country’s own production and white asparagus must be imported. China is by far the world’s largest exporter.
Ingredients for German White Asparagus
To prepare German style white asparagus you will need a large pot filled with water to boil it. Additionally:
Fresh white asparagus. The mildly flavored star ingredient. The thicker the spears, the longer you will need to boil them. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layer.
Butter, lemon juice, salt and sugar. All are traditionally added to the boiling water to flavor the vegetable while it is cooking.
For a no-hassle, no-fail Hollandaise sauce made entirely in your blender you will need:
Egg yolks. Use large eggs, as fresh as possible (the blender method skips the gentle warming of the sauce via double boiler).
Butter. You will melt it and it will help warm the yolks, aided by the heat released by the blades of the blender.
Lemon juice. Freshly squeezed.
White wine. Optional, but recommended as it adds an elegant depth of flavor to the sauce.
Hot sauce or white pepper. Originally Hollandaise was made with white pepper or a pinch of cayenne, but a few dashes of aged hot sauce work well. Your choice.
Salt. To season. Add just a bit in the beginning, then taste and adjust once the sauce is blended.
How to Cook White Asparagus
Prep. You definitely want to peel the shoots of white asparagus, as well as trim the woody ends. Once you do the tender, crunchy flesh is exposed. Be careful handling the stalks as they tend to be more brittle than those of green asparagus.
Bring flavored water to boil. Fill a large pot with water and turn on the heat to high. Add the butter, salt, sugar and lemon juice and stir as the butter melts.
Boil and serve. Once the water is boiling add the white asparagus and boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove carefully from the water and serve immediately, while still hot. Drizzle with Hollandaise, garnish with parsley or dill.
How to Make Hollandaise Sauce in Blender
Prep. Bring eggs to room temperature, separate the yolks (save the whites for another recipe). Melt butter and remove from heat. Set up a blender.
Blend. Briefly blend the yolks, then add the salt, white wine, lemon juice and hot sauce, blend briefly again. Slowly add the melted butter as you blend on low until all is incorporated.
Keep warm. If not serving immediately, transfer to an appropriate ceramic or glass container and immerse the bottom of that container into a bowl with hot water (similar to double boiler but not over direct heat).
What Goes Well with White Asparagus?
- In Germany another favorite way to eat Weisser spargel is with ham (or prosciutto) and boiled potatoes, called Dampfkartoffeln. Other potato preparation ideas that go alongside white asparagus include braised, roasted, pan-fried, mashed or potato dumplings.
- White asparagus and ham is often drizzled with olive oil or a simple lemon butter sauce instead of the richer Hollandaise. To make it simply melt butter on very low heat and slowly stir in lemon juice, along with salt and pepper to taste for seasoning.
- Several steaks such as cowboy ribeye, Tomahawk steak, flat iron steak, bavette steak and sauces for steak go well with white asparagus.
- Pork roast, schnitzel, frikadellen and beer brats are all delicious when accompanied by German white asparagus.
- Baked fish fillet or pan-seared salmon
- Baked chicken legs or roast chicken
- Crisp, effervescent German beers – we recommend Munich Helles, Weissbier, Northern German Pilsner, Keller pilsners and Maibock.
- Light bodied white wines with herbal and citrus notes such as Grüner Veltliner or Sauvignon Blanc.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- 1lb white asparagus (a bit more is fine)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 10 tbsp butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp white wine (optional)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce (optional)
1. Peel the asparagus using a vegetable peeler and cut off the woody ends. (Handle it with care as it can snap easily, being almost 94% water).
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the butter, salt, sugar and lemon juice and stir. Gently drop the white asparagus and boil for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on how thick it is.
3. Gently remove the spears from the boiling water and plate. Serve immediately, drizzled with Hollandaise and garnished with parsley or dill.
1. In a small sauce pan over gentle heat melt the butter.
2. In a blender place the egg yolks and blend on slow for just a couple of seconds. Add the lemon juice, salt, white wine and hot sauce (if using). Blend again for a couple of seconds.
3. Slowly add the melted butter while blending, until it is all incorporated. Taste the Hollandaise sauce and adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer the sauce to a warm serving dish or gravy boat and serve. If you need to keep it warm, place the serving container in a pan with hot water so it does not separate. Do not try to microwave it or heat it up over direct heat.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 354Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 222mgSodium: 1163mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g