White Asparagus with Hollandaise

Spring and early Summer

Many years ago Belgium television broadcasted a program called Duizend Seconden. In this show the Chef (Herwig Van Hove, a professor in chemistry) would create a three-course meal in 1000 seconds (or less). The show was hosted by Felice (Dré Steemans) who also assisted the Chef when necessary. Later on two books with recipes (in Dutch) were published. During the show Herwig van Hove would not only show how things had to be done, but he would also explain why. That’s how he came up with the great yet simple idea to create a Hollandaise sauce in the microwave.
We all know that sauces like Hollandaise, Béarnaise and many more rely on raising the temperature in a controlled and slow way. That’s why we learn to use a bowl, a pan with gently simmering water, carefully avoiding direct contact between the bowl and the water, whisk, and whisk some more. Some add the butter gradually; others start with the complete mixture. Some add mustard (which is always a great way of creating smoothness and enhancing consistency) and others add corn starch (strictly forbidden). Others dash of to the supermarket and buy some hideous powder (you wouldn’t do that of course).
Back to Herwig van Hove: the crucial part is to add warmth to the mixture in a controlled and slow way. So why not use a microwave? It comes with a timer and you can lower the power to something like 80 Watts, giving you all the control you need for a perfect Hollandaise.
Duizend Seconden was a show dear to our heart: the joy of watching and understanding cooking, the chemistry of two people doing what they thought best without worrying too much about a concept or an audience and of course a Chef who was not a Chef and an Assistant who was much more than an Assistant. Thank you Herwig and Felice!
This is the moment we would like to add a link to YouTube, but alas, not one of their many shows is on the channel.

We enjoyed our Asparagus and Hollandaise with a glass of Petit Sois, 2015, (produced by Bodegas Costers del Sio, Spain) which is a blend of Viognier, Chardonnay and Muscat. The Viognier brings a touch of freshness to the dish, which works well with the lemon in the Hollandaise. Combining white asparagus with Muscat is a classic. The Chardonnay is a bridge to the buttery aspect of the sauce. So the wine in your glass has multiple links to what’s on your plate, which makes it a truly wonderful dish.

Now embrace your microwave and start using if for Hollandaise.

Here is what you need:

  • One Egg Yolk
  • 50 grams of Butter
  • 1 tablespoon of Water
  • ½ tablespoon of Lemon Juice
  • White Pepper
  • 4 Asparagus

Melt the butter in the microwave on low power (10-30% of the power of your microwave, depending on the specifics of your oven). Make sure the butter is luke warm. Now whisk the yolk a bit, add the water and the lemon juice and whisk some more. Add this mixture to the butter and whisk some more. Now transfer to the microwave and give it let’s say 10 seconds of 30%. Remove from oven and whisk. Repeat. You will now feel the consistency changing. If not, don’t worry, just repeat the step. Towards the end of the cooking move to steps of 5 seconds on 10% power. Whisk, play and feel free to find your own way (it also depends on the amount of water in the butter, the temperature of the egg et cetera). When the Hollandaise is ready take it out of the oven, continue whisking gently and cool slightly in a water bath.
In parallel you cook the asparagus (depending on the size 25 or 30 minutes; they should be well done for this dish). Serve the asparagus with just a bit of white pepper and a generous helping of Hollandaise.