Asparagus with Butter and Soy

Time for something savory.

This recipe comes from a really beautiful book, Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes by Andrea Reusing. Just when I thought I had enough of seasonal cookbooks, Reusing created something fresh. The book manages to keep one foot in the professional kitchen (she is the James Beard Award-winning chef behind Chapel Hill’s Lantern) and one foot in the home kitchen. The resulting recipes are home cooking inspired by professional experience and a real love of ingredients. It is a charming read and one of those cookbooks that I actually sit down and read from front to back. I have about ten recipes bookmarked to try.

First up was this asparagus in soy sauce. It is the perfect recipe for right now and I plan on making this often while asparagus sticks around. It is easy to put together, but the timing is important. Read through the whole recipe so you get a sense of what needs to happen, and then get your table set and ready to go. This will come together quickly.

I’m skipping instructions for poaching eggs because there are so many techniques online and every cook has their own preferred method. In my experience, the easiest way to guarantee a smooth poaching process is to use fresh farm eggs. (For the record, I use the whirlpool method)

Happy asparagus everyone! We’re back to cooking with local fruits and vegetables in the Midwest.

Asparagus with Butter and Soy (adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing)

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1/2 pound), tough ends snapped off
  • 2 teaspoons expeller-pressed vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 2 poached eggs

Fill a medium pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add enough kosher salt so that the water is like seawater.
Heat a saute pan over high heat. When the pan is very hot, drop the asparagus into the boiling water and cook for 25-30 seconds, less if the asparagus is super skinny. Drain the asparagus and shake dry. Add the oil to the hot pan and swirl to coat bottom. Immediately add the asparagus and toss constantly for 30 seconds, until they become slightly blistered in spots. Do not lower the heat! (be careful! when you add the asparagus to the pan it will sizzle and splash a little) Add the soy sauce and shake the pan to coat the asparagus. As soon as it evaporates, remove from heat, add 1 tablespoon water and immediately follow with the butter. Continue to toss the asparagus until the butter is melted, creating a dark golden brown emulsified sauce. If the sauce breaks, add up to a tablespoon of water and continue to toss until it comes back to together.
Divide the asparagus between two plates and top with the poached egg. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.

28 comments to “Asparagus with Butter and Soy”

  1. Looks incredible!

    Are those little purple buds chive blossoms? They’re beautiful.

  2. Are those chive flowers on top? So pretty!

  3. Nothing like asparagus and a poached egg. What did your garnish the dish with? Do I see seeds of some sort alongside those flowers?
    And thanks for the heads-up on Andrea Reusing. I’m going to be in Chapel Hill in August. I will definitely have to persuade some people to come and check it out with me!

  4. Yes, chive flowers! We used them for a garnish at the Floriole dinner and I have been sprinkling them on everything since. Kind of nice for spring.

  5. Running to the garden for supplies! This sounds sublime. Here’s what I did with asparagus a few weeks ago, when spring still felt like fall in Nova Scotia:

  6. must grab that book! i have wanted to go to the Lantern every year when we visit NC over christmas but i can’t seem to make it work with the trip schedule. maybe the cookbook will tide me over? Food & Wine had a great tea-smoked chicken recipe a while back from her that was a-mazing, too.

  7. Cooking in the Moment is a wonderful book. I, too have many recipes marked to try. The photography is inspired.

  8. This looks delicious. I’m going to make this for dinner tonight with some fresh asparagus. Yum!

  9. It’s always a good sign when my husband reads over my shoulder and says “mmm…asparagus with butter and soy.” Recipe bookmarked. Thank you!

  10. What a perfectly poached egg! Such a simple yet delicious dish

  11. I love the chives flowers on top as well. I confess I still have trouble with poaching eggs.. One more reason to give this a try.

  12. What a lovely pairing… And I love that piece of crusty bread there. Have to soak up all those wonderful juices :-)

  13. I brought hard-boiled eggs to work for breakfast this morning but was all out of salt. I did, however, have a packet of soy sauce on hand. As I was sitting there eating, I thought about how well eggs and soy sauce go together and wondered why I didn’t utilize the combination more often. Then this pops up in my reader! I’m in the Midwest as well (Detroit). so I’m also trying to cram in as much asparagus as I can before the season ends. Definitely giving this a try.

  14. Haven’t had a chance yet to cook from Reusing’s new cookbook, but I have been to the Lantern and it’s fantastic. Skip the dining room and go to the bar — it’s much more fun and it’s the same menu. I absolutely loved the chaat appetizer.

  15. Yay! I love it when you post something savory.

  16. Tim, just stumbled upon your blog via TasteSpotting. Beautiful blog and photos! It’s hard to imagine that you use P&S but very inspirational (I use P&S too and trying to improve my photos).

  17. I make a similar dish in the oven but I had never seen it photograped so beautifully! In fact the recipe is posted on my blog with a picture of a hamburger :)
    love your blog and will have to try a poached egg with mine next time!

  18. Special k says:

    June 12th, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Made this, over poached the eggs, as usual, but was great, thanks!

  19. I was so intimidated by the instructions – seems more complicated than I wanted to deal with but I focused my efforts and had a delicious asperagus dish – this is the perfect spring side! I want to check out this book now for sure

  20. This looks delicious. I am going to check out that book. It sounds great!

  21. YUM! I make this regularly throughout the spring asparagus season, but skip the salt and add a dash or two of balsamic vinegar instead. Do give this variation a try, it cuts through the butter a bit and is delicious. Love the chive flower garnish too, we have an abundance of these in the garden right now (pretty much the only thing we’ve been able to harvest yet!)

  22. How lovely! Never thought to use soy sauce over eggs.

  23. Nicole, you’ll be impressed by what a great combo eggs and soy sauce can be!

  24. Holy crap! You guys! This is amazing! I made this for dinner tonight – we added mushrooms as well and I WANT MORE. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Kimberley says:

    June 29th, 2011 at 1:08 am

    I made this the other night, and my husband, who does not like asparagus, loved this dish. The best was sopping up the sauce with a chunk of fresh bread! Thanks Tim!

  26. Alright, I Iove to cook, photograph it, write about it, and most of all eat it. But do you ever, fellow blogger, wish someone would come cook for YOU? Well, I wish you would come to Hawaii & cook for me!

  27. I ate at Lantern last night, as I said I would after your having brought Andrea Reusing to my attention with this post. Really awesome seafood–how often do you get to eat a whole fried fish? I have to say, though, that dessert was the best part. A fig sundae–candied fresh mission figs on creme fraiche ice cream with a red wine syrup and candied nuts. Just incredible! Look out for pastry chef Monica Segovia-Welsh!

  28. I love this book, great recipe. Simple but delicious

What do you think?