June 17, 2010

Asparagus with Poached Egg & Miso Butter

I love summer...not just because I get a break from teaching, but also because I have more time to cook and experiment in the kitchen. This summer, I plan to try as many recipes as I can from the piles of cookbooks I have all around the house.  In particular, I'm excited to try more recipes from David Chang's Momofuku cookbook. Stephanie and I already made the infamous pork belly buns & it wasn't so difficult.

So, I recently made the asparagus with poached egg & miso butter...a light summer supper using some gorgeous local asparagus we got at the farmers' market.  The miso butter is tasty but very salty, so apply sparingly. I put way too much on my plate (see pic below), and it really overpowered the delicate egg. The picture in the cookbook shows the butter on the plate under the asparagus, so that might be the way to go to avoid over-doing it.

  Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg & Miso Butter
from Momofuku

Serves 4

½ cup shiro (white) miso
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more if needed
½ pound thin to medium asparagus
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
4 poached eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
  • Make the miso butter: Combine the miso with 5 tablespoons of the butter in a small bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until well-mixed; the butter should be one color, not a streaky mess. Reserve until needed: You can refrigerate it, well-wrapped, for up to a few weeks.
  • Snap off the woodier bottom inch or so of each asparagus stalk. Use a vegetable peeler to shave away the tougher outer layer from each stalk, but don't get carried away; you probably won't need to peel the stalks more than 2 or so inches up from the trimmed end.
  • Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Line a plate with paper towels for draining the asparagus. When the butter sends up the first wisp of smoke, put the asparagus in the pan. (Do not overcrowd the pan; cook in batches, if necessary, draining each one, and refreshing the butter if the butter from the first batch smells scorched.) When the asparagus start to take on some color, in 2 to 3 minutes, season with a generous pinch of salt and turn heat down to medium. Turn asparagus with a spoon or spatula so they can color on the second side, another few minutes. When the asparagus are nicely browned and tender (but not exactly soft), transfer them to the paper towels to drain.
  • While the asparagus are cooking, heat the sherry vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. After half a minute, add the miso butter, turn the heat to low, and stir to warm it through. When the butter has loosened slightly - it should still have a certain viscosity to it and shouldn't be melted - remove the pan from the burner and put it in a warm spot.
  • Season the cooked asparagus with another pinch of salt, if needed. Smear a quarter of the warmed miso butter into a thickish puddle in the middle of each plate. Divide the asparagus among the plates and top each with an egg. Finish each dish with a few turns of black pepper, and serve at once.

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