Often times asparagus in called the perfect food. Why? It is one of the very food items which has no fat, no cholesterol and almost no sodium. It is also one of the most versatile foods in the ways it can be prepared -- it can be baked, sauteed, steamed, grilled or eaten raw. Not too bad for a member of the lilly family!
So, why is asparagus considered one of nature's wonder foods? Take into consideration this fact: a single serving of asparagus provides over half of the recommended allowance of folate. Folate is an important nutrient for blood cell formation, thus preventing many diseases. It is also a natural diuretic and one of the higher protein vegetables available.
Before you decide to go out and buy a lot of asparagus, it does have a downside. The shelf life of these spears of wonder is very short and due to this, it can be quite expensive at the market.
If you are a fan of asparagus you might be asking yourself, "why does it make my urine smell funny?" Good question and factually, there is no answer!
At Casa de Cuisine, we like to feature asparagus in a very simple, yet very delicious dish called Asparagus Marco Polo. When I created this dish for one of my restaurants, it was essentially out of neccessity. I had to come up with a quick side-dish and simply used some extra goods we had in the kitchen. My original intent was not to fuse the cuisines of Asia and Italy. Though I am rather known as a fusion Chef, this dish was not planned. I simply had an excess of asparagus and some pancetta left over from another dish. Hell, I thought, just combine the two with one of my favorite Asian sauces (hoisin sauce) and let's see what happens.
Once I tasted this dish, I smiled. All the flavors marry perfectly and the crunch of the perfectly cooked asparagus is just an added bonus. This is also a perfect side-dish for any grilled or barbecued entree and if you should decide to serve it as such, grill the aparagus right along with what ever meat you're using.
Ingredients needed to make Asparagus Marco Polo (serves 4 as a side-dish or 2 as an entree):
- 1/4 pound pancetta (Italian bacon and found in the deli section of most markets)
- 1 pound asparagus
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. Hoisin Sauce (found in Asian section of most markets)
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
- In a small skillet over medium heat, add the pancetta and cook just until crisp.
- In a medium saute pan or skillet, place the asparagus and just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, hoisin and soy sauce.
- Remove the asparagus from the water and place on a serving platter. Place the pancetta over the asparagus and then drizzle everything with the sauce mixture.
The new cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards is now available from Amazon.com and bookstores worldwide. One of the most anticipated cookbooks of the year, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."