Sunday, May 22, 2011

Battle of the Asparagus: Green vs. White

The Set-up:
Looking forward to asparagus season every year is something I look forward to. Is that circular reasoning to say I look forward to the looking forward? It's true, though. When it finally hits whatever locality I'm in that year, there is no greater release than that first bundle of asparagus, proudly being carried home, and lightly sauteed in olive oil for it's first performance.

In the Czech Republic green asparagus is hard to come by. I have rarely, if ever, seen green Czech asparagus, rather it comes from Slovakia. Being ex-country-mates, Slovakian products don't even need the slightest justification to be considered local. But even Slovakian green stalks only make a limited appearance.

I have therefor acquiesced to eating white asparagus. Yet, something always tugs at me, thinking it's inferior. It's too big, too woody, too muted, too...whatever. I am just not as satisfied eating the white as I am it's green better half. So I decided on a taste test. Some Slovakian greens finally showed up at the market this week, giving me the chance to compare it to our Czech whites.

Let the Battle of the Asparagus begin!

The Preparation:
The bottom bits were snapped off at their natural breaking point. The whites, because they are naturally wider and and therefor a bit woodier, snapped further up on the stalk, giving a little less bang for the buck. I then peeled the whites with a vegetable peeler. I know that they tend to be rather stringy, so this is my usual tactic. Together they were tossed together in a pan, drizzled with a generous amount of olive oil, salt/peppered, and roasted for about 10 minutes.

The Verdict:
While the white variety definitely struggles with its much thicker nature, it still retains that delicate asparagus taste - especially at the tips. The biggest surprise though, and it wasn't until I was almost finished that I finally identified this, was that the white asparagus has a more buttery flavour. Really. Even though I used only olive oil, I could of sworn there was a few knobs of butter snuck in there. Not found with the green though.

The hefty girth of the white variety really plays with its texture. I've seen some at the farmers market this year which are so thick that only about ten of them are needed to make up a 500g bundle - peeling before cooking helps considerably. However, as it is said that white asparagus is more tender than its green counterpart, I found this to be true. At the middle of it's slightly stringy outside, it is meltingly soft and tender. At least, it is on the top half of the stalk. The bottom is definitely crispy. If you're not afraid (or too cheap) to break off a big part of the ends before cooking, you shouldn't have a problem with overt woodiness.

All in all, the taste test has buoyed my outlook a bit. As I normally buy the white variety due to it's Czech home-grown nature, I tend to still yearn for the green. I am by nature a person who is rarely satisfied with what's on her plate right in front of her. I struggle with this greatly. So the next time I am picking at my side of white asparagus and tempted to think "it's just not asparagus-y enough. I with I had the green..." I'll remember this experience and know that both white and green are truly even matched in their asparagusness, and truth be told, I really do prefer the texture of the white (so long as they are not bigger than my thumb.)

I wish everything were as simple as setting up a Battle of... test to realize the value of what one has.

Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy.
-- Jo.


  1. I honestly have never tried white asparagus and I like the research you did :) A buttery taste without butter is a great discovery!

  2. It's the fun kind of 'research', for sure!


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