When I created this dish for one of my restaurants, it was essentially out of necessity. 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 asparagus right along with what ever meat you're using.
To be honest with you, when I prepare this dish at home (which I do a few times during asparagus season) I serve it as an entree with some fresh French bread and a nice glass of chilled white wine!
On a weird side-note, people often wonder why after eating asparagus their urine smells. The actual reason for this is unknown but scientists all seem to agree it has something to do with the chemical compound of the asparagus and the breakdown as it filters through the kidneys. Quite harmless and very natural.
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: Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals."