The hot and cold of white asparagus

The hot white asparagus is served in a cloth to prevent it from getting cold. Here it is served with baby potatoes and Hollandaise sauce on the side. — Photos: ONG SOON HIN/The Star

WHITE asparagus from Holland are back by popular demand, with different pairings starring at Opium and El Cerdo in Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

Both restaurants, under the Werner’s Group, have been featuring white asparagus for many years now as the vegetable is a favourite among diners.

El Cerdo head chef Jaganathan Selvaraju said compared to regular asparagus, white asparagus has a less grainy texture.

“White asparagus is special because it is seasonal.

“Diners enjoy it and we find it goes well paired with steak.

“At El Cerdo, diners will get a chance to try the white asparagus prepared in different ways,” he said.

(Far right) The cold asparagus with Jamon Iberico is flavourful and goes well with Vinaigrette and Egg Mimosa.Grilled Scallop with White Asparagus and Avocado Salad.
The cold asparagus with Jamon Iberico is flavourful and goes well with Vinaigrette and Egg Mimosa.

Pork lovers will definitely enjoy the cold asparagus with a choice of Jamon Iberico and Jamon Serrano topped with Vinaigrette and Egg Mimosa as I did.

Both dishes offered a distinctive taste mainly due to the choice of meat but the clever pairing of sides made them very likeable.

The Iberico ham, cured for one and a half years or more, unveiled depth in flavour as the paper-thin slices of meat was unrivalled tastewise, complemented by the sweetness of the white asparagus.

While Serrano ham was slightly milder in taste, it was nice when relished with Egg Mimosa.

I was advised to try the jamon with rock melon and enjoyed the combination of fruity sweetness and salty pork.

Other highlights in the promotion menu are Hot Asparagus served with Hollandaise Sauce and Boiled Baby Potatoes and White Asparagus Soup with Pork Kassler.

The grilled scallop served with white asparagus and avocado salad play centre stage from the promotion menu.
Grilled Scallop with White Asparagus and Avocado Salad.

Do not be alarmed when you see hot asparagus being served in a cloth with hot water as Jaganathan explained, this was to help keep the asparagus warm.

“When we bring the dish out from the kitchen, it will get cold so adding a cloth helps keep its temperature.

“The tricky part about white asparagus is that you cannot over boil it and the temperature is essential to maintaining its taste,” he said.

The poached asparagus goes well with the Hollandaise sauce or most commonly known as Dutch sauce.

The soup cooked with peeled white asparagus skin gives it an earthy flavour, and I found this extremely appetising and creamy.

Over at Opium, white asparagus takes centre stage with grilled scallop and avocado salad.

Fancy desserts? Try the cheesy banana fritters at Opium.
The Cheesy Banana Fritters at Opium is a must-try.

The salad with diced tomatoes and avocado offers different textures to the smooth scallops.

We also savoured items aside from the promotional menu including the mouthwatering Salted Egg Spaghetti Carbonara.

A combination of aromatic salted egg yolk, Parmesan and cream sauce are used to concoct this spaghetti dish, which is served with smoked duck bits with a side of pickled cabbage.

The restaurant also has its signature elemental-themed cocktails Fire Spirit made with infused spiced rum, hand squeezed oranges and Grand Marnier.

Diners can enjoy a fiery display when the cocktail is served as the waiter lights up the drink charring the spices placed on top to give it an aromatic appeal.

The white asparagus promotion is available until May 31.

asparagus soup with pork Kassler makes a good starter.
White Asparagus Soup with Pork Kassler.

EL CERDO, 43 & 45, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2145 0511). Business hours: Noon to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm (Sun to Thu), 12pm to 2.30pm, 6pm to 11pm (Fri), 6pm to 11pm (Sat) Non-Halal

OPIUM, 50, Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2142 5670) Business hours: Noon to 1am (Monday to Thursday), Noon to 2am (Friday and Saturday), 4pm to 1am (Sunday). Pork-free.

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by Star Metro.

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