Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Asparagus with Boiled Egg and Miso Butter

This morning I happened upon an extraordinary breakfast. Asparagus season should have met its natural end two weeks ago, but there it was again at the farmers' market last week. And when you have fresh, local asparagus but one month out of the year, it's worth having for breakfast.

It occurred to me that the way I cook asparagus and the way I hard-cook an egg are so compatible that they can be done in the same pot. I have also been experimenting with miso lately.

Miso is a fun condiment made of fermented soybeans. It has a distinctive nutty, wine-like flavor, and is much less intimidating if you think of it as a salt substitute. Keep in mind that table salt has fifteen times more sodium per teaspoon than white miso. White miso is mellower than red or black miso, which I haven't tried yet. To get the most out of your miso, never heat it or you’ll lose valuable enzymes. At the end of this post I’ve included a recipe for miso-honey vinaigrette, in case you’re wondering what else you can do with it.

Per serving:
1 egg
8 asparagus spears
1 teaspoon butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon white miso

Fill a medium saucepan with enough cold water to submerge an egg. Put the egg in the water and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, chop the asparagus spears into roughly one-inch lengths on the diagonal. Sort the stems and the tips into separate piles. In a little bowl or ramekin, whip the miso and soft butter together with a fork and set them on the table as a condiment.

As soon as the water (with the egg in it) just begins to boil, turn the heat off and slide the asparagus stems into the water. Cover and wait two minutes. Then add the asparagus tips, cover again and let everything sit for another three minutes. Drain the water and remove the asparagus to a small bowl. The asparagus will be bright green and just tender; the egg will be hard-cooked with a still-moist yolk and no green halo or sulfur smell. Pour cold water over the egg, crack it in the pan and peel it as best you can. Serve the boiled egg on top of the asparagus and garnish with miso butter to taste. Or serve it all over rice for lunch.

Honey-Miso Vinaigrette for Two

½ tsp honey
1 tsp yellow miso
½ tsp granulated kelp
1 T fresh basil leaves, sliced
1 T brown rice vinegar
2 T olive oil

Blend all ingredients until emulsified and pour over fresh garden salad.


Eunia said...

interesting. will have to try it out.

Kimi Harris said...

yum, this sounds wonderful!

Lisa said...

This recipe really appeals to me. I love to explore Japanese food, perhaps because of the simplicity. Your recipe takes that sense of simplicity and makes it both interesting and accessible.

And thanks for the information about miso paste. It's great to find new ways to use this interesting ingredient.