Chef Partner of Century House Tavern
Asparagus is one of my favorite spring vegetables and is also known to be a natural anti-inflammatory food that is high in anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Here is a springtime dish featuring California jumbo green asparagus. This same dish was part of my three course special and is now a part of our regular menu. I developed my appreciation for the jumbo green asparagus during my years at Bacchanalia.
Every spring, as a company, we would bring in three or four shipments totaling more than 300 11-pound cases of asparagus over a six to eight week period. Asparagus appeared on the menu from the appetizer courses through the dessert course.
If you love asparagus, spring is the time to indulge, as the price is very favorable. Look for more asparagus dishes to come at the restaurant in the coming weeks. The following recipe for this dish is easily made at home with ingredients you can source at your favorite grocer. This recipe serves six people.
6 fillets of salmon (6 ounces each)
2 bunches jumbo green asparagus (peeled)
2 large salad cucumber (peeled and seeded)
1 tbsp. Champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar will substitute)
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 medium watermelon radish (red salad radishes can be used)
1 bunch chives (finely sliced)
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut your cleaned cucumber into 1 inch thick slices and place in a blender with the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Cover and blend. Slowly add the grape seed oil. You will see the vinaigrette start to thicken. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. The vinaigrette may be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for up to two days. Peel the watermelon radish of its outer skin and carefully slice the radish very thing using a mandolin. If you are using a red salad radish, peeling is not necessary. Julienne the slices of radish and place them in a small dish and cover with water, store in the refrigerator for up to two days in advance.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, blanch the asparagus for about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove immediately and place in ice water to stop the cooking process. After 5 minutes, remove asparagus from the ice bath and place on a cutting board to trim the ends (I suggest cutting approximately 2 inches off the bottom, as the bottom can be woody). This step can be done ahead of time. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Season salmon with salt and pepper, take ½ of the olive oil and rub it on the salmon prior to sautéing. Carefully place the salmon in the sauté pan and sear for 2 minutes. Gently turn the salmon over and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. If you have a thick filet, after you have flipped the salmon, it may require going into a 400 degree oven for about 2-3 minutes to finish (this also depends on how you prefer your salmon, i.e., rare to well done; I recommend medium rare to medium). While the salmon is cooking, in another large sauté pan over high heat, start to melt the butter and add the blanched asparagus. Season with salt and cook until the asparagus is warm and glazed. Immediately remove from heat and serve.
Place the asparagus in the center of your plate, place salmon on top, and drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top of the salmon. Spoon the vinaigrette around the plate, sprinkle the radish julienne all over the plate, and garnish with chives.