Jim Davis: Hi! I am Jim Davis for Harris Teeter, and today I am going to show you all about cutting and preparing asparagus.
How To Prepare AsparagusWe start with a piece of asparagus. Asparagus only comes two ways; tough and tender. We are going to hold it between our fingers and bend it until it breaks. This is tough, this is tender. This you can save for a soup pot later, this is what we are going to eat. With our whole batch of asparagus, we'll break a couple of pieces, see if they break about the same length and they do.
So now what we will do is we will cut our asparagus all to the same length based on the break, because the asparagus all came out of the pot at the same time. As we are working with our asparagus, occasionally we want to cross a piece that has a bad head on it. You can see that it's already started to turn dark green and is starting to soften. That's not a good piece of asparagus that we want to cook. Again, you could save that for your soup pot if you want to, but we don't want to fix it for our company.
If we find a piece of asparagus that has an outer woody edge on it, the outside edge, just take a vegetable peeler and peel it off, just like that. You don't need to peel all the way up to head, that we fairly tender anyway. So we peel it off just like that and that's all it takes and you only do that if you have a very woody outside edge or your asparagus is very big. Okay.
Now, most importantly for asparagus we have to blanch it. If we put it into hot boiling water with a little salt in it, then we are going to lock the color and we are going to preserve the asparagus. It's much easier to save this way. This is our asparagus now, trimmed and ready to blanch.
We are going to put it into a pot of boiling water that I have added some salt to, just like that, we add a little salt, and we let it simmer for about a minute, maybe two minutes at the most until it gets a nice bright green color. Then we are going to take it out and put it into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
Now the asparagus has blanched in the salted water for just a couple of minutes, we are going to take it out, put it into cold ice water to stop the cooking process. We only want to blanch it, not cook it. We take it out with our tongs; put it in the ice water. Now I want you to look at the difference.
This was the color of the asparagus when we put it in the pot and look at the color of the asparagus now that we have blenched, see how pretty and bright green it is and it will stay that way, no matter how we continue to cook it or how long we continue to cook it. We have now locked the color of the asparagus and do it so it won't change again.
How to Chop AsparagusWe want to remove it from the water on a paper towel to absorb some of the excess liquid, excess water, we take that out. We'll remove it to the table. Now we have removed our asparagus from the cold water. We are going to chop it. We are going to lay it on the board and we are going to use our knuckles as a guide. We are just going to chop the asparagus and about quarter inch to half inch pieces, going all the way up to stem until we get to the head of the asparagus.
Most of the time, we don't chop the head, we leave those nice little pieces and that's how you chop asparagus.
How to Slice AsparagusUsually, you slice asparagus at an angle and pieces about an inch long and as in chopping we don't cut up the head. We save the head for garnish and that is the way you slice asparagus.