This James Beard Recipe Is My New Favored Way to Cook dinner Asparagus

One thing I have appreciated about owning a residence is locating all kinds of plants—that I did not plant—growing all-around the residence. A person of all those surprises is an asparagus bed. It is not a specially effective asparagus mattress, but it is delightful. 3 or four stalks poke up at a time, not plenty of for a food, but a lot more than adequate for enjoyment reasons.

I enable the stalks develop and sprout (I consider that is the phrase?), because a pair of people today instructed me to do so. Evidently, if I go away them on your own this year, a lot more will come again up coming 12 months. I hope that is genuine, due to the fact I just uncovered my new favourite way to prepare asparagus, courtesy of a Portland icon.

Chef, foods author, instructor, and popular Portland native James Beard was known for staying uniquely American and creating productive, flavorful dishes. His soy sauce and butter asparagus, which has been tailored for Meals52 by Eric Kim, is just that. Slices of asparagus are cooked quickly in a combination of soy sauce and butter, coating them in a salty, abundant glaze and tempering the vegetable’s grassy, uncooked taste.

It is barely a recipe, more of a strategy, a single that Kim discovered at the end of Beard’s 1964 memoir, Delights and Prejudices [method in bold]:

… if it is in time, I will have asparagus, both boiled swiftly till tender but continue to crisp—and this with no embellishment save salt and freshly ground black pepper—or reduce in paper-slender diagonal slices and tossed with butter and soy for two or a few minutes in a very hot skillet, which offers it a pleasant texture.

“Paper-skinny diagonal slices” is a tiny vague, so I made the decision to prep the asparagus two means and see which I liked better. I started out with a very little simple knife perform, reducing about four ounces of stalks on the bias to make skinny, though not quite “paper-slender,” slices.

Asparagus stalks and slices on a wooden cutting board.

Asparagus stalks and slices on a picket cutting board.
Photo: Claire Reduce

For the next four-ounce batch, I made use of a vegetable peeler to make genuinely paper skinny slices, eliminating the guidelines 1st and trying to keep them complete.

Asparagus shavings and tips on a wooden cutting board with a vegetable peeler.

Picture: Claire Decrease

I then cooked them in a hot cast iron skillet, using Kim’s ratios for butter and sauce. I did, nevertheless, switch out the soy sauce for fish sauce, for the reason that I like my greens to be a very little funky. This, in my view, was a excellent shift. I also garnished the dish with some toasted almonds, because they glance very and flavor superior.

Sautéed asparagus on a plate with sliced almonds

Image: Claire Reduced

Out of the two, I truly favored the thicker, knife-lower asparagus slices. The asparagus I experienced ready with a vegetable peeler was far too thin, and turned tender, nearly like damp noodles. It also absorbed also a great deal of the sauce, building it style a touch way too salty.

The thicker asparagus held its clean, crisp texture and absorbed just the proper amount of money of fish sauce, ensuing in a perfectly seasoned, completely tender-crisp bite of spring vegetable. I will be earning it once more (and once more, and all over again).

Fish Sauce and Butter Asparagus (adapted from Eric Kim’s adaptation of “a really superior line in Delights and Prejudices by James Beard.”)


  • 8 ounces asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (or soy sauce if you want to keep it common)
  • Optional: Fresh pepper and/or toasted almonds

Slice the asparagus on the bias to make slender slices all-around 1/4 inch (or thinner) in thickness. Warmth a skillet in excess of high warmth (I employed my solid iron) and add the butter. As soon as the butter just starts off to brown, increase the asparagus and cook dinner for one particular minute, stirring at the time or 2 times.

Add the fish sauce, stir once more, and cook dinner for another minute or so, till the asparagus is tender-crisp (get a small examination chunk). Serve right away and garnish with pepper and/or toasted almonds, if so preferred.

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