CHARRED ASPARAGUS | A rich juxtaposition of vibrant colours to brighten up your dinner parties
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of asparagus? Well, for me, it is ‘versatility’. That’s right, asparagus is amazing versatile: steam, simmer, roast, batter, grill, pan-fry, or wok-fry – these are all the ways in which you can cook this delectably crisp and sweet vegetable. Heck, you can even slice it thinly and incorporate it into a salad in raw form.
The cooked spears can sport a variety of guises. Simple salt and pepper seasoning with butter or olive oil will often do the trick. For something fancier, try drizzling it with a beurre blanc sauce. Or for an even bolder treatment, try a mixture of anchovies, garlic, olives and chiles.
How to shop for asparagus? First, at the market, look for spears that are brightly colored and have compact, tightly closed tips. Spears that are ridged or look dry have lost their flavor. Check the root ends to see how dried out they are; if they are truly brown, reach for a different bundle.
How to best cook asparagus? For stovetop cooking, a stainless steel or enamel-coated cast-iron pot is best. If you’re stir-frying, you’ll need a wok or a deep-sided cast iron skillet. For roasting, use a baking sheet or a small roasting pan.
For now, I am going to show you how to grill asparagus on a cast-iron pan and finish it off with a topping that comprises of torn bocconcini and diced persimmon.
Grilled Asparagus with Torn Bocconcini and Persimmon
COOK TIME: 3-5 mins | PREP TIME: 10 min | TOTAL TIME: 15 min | SERVES: 4 (side)
- One pack of asparagus (NB: thicker ones are better for grilling)
- 100g of bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella
- One persimmon
- Sea salt and black pepper, to season
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- Drizzle of Pukara’s caramelised balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Clean asparagus and cut off about 0.5cm at the root end.
- Heat grill pan on medium-high, brush with oil. Grill asparagus until charred on both sides, roughly 3-5 minutes or so depending on thickness of the stems. During the grilling process, season with some salt and crack the good old black pepper.
- Chop persimmon into 1cm cubes. Break bocconcini or mozzarella into bite size pieces.
- Once asparagus is charred evenly on both sides, layer on serving plate.
- Topple the green stems with the torn bocconcini and diced persimmon to get the rich juxtaposition of bright colours. Grate some lemon zest and drizzle with some balsamic glaze to finish (optional).