Although the asparagus season is long at its end this year (April-June), I would like to present this medieval asparagus recipe, which is a bit unusual compared to our modern asparagus recipes. We did make this recipe during our May visit to the Historic Open Air Museum in Eindhoven. The recipe originally comes from the 'Libre de sent sovi' containing fourteenth century Catalan recipes. The translation is in 'Pleyn Delit - medieval cookery for modern cooks' (ISBN0802076327)
Esparaguat made during the asparagus season
Esparaguat or medieval fried asparagus
If you wish to eat asparagus, take them and wash them and parboil; and when they are parboiled, dredge them with flour and put them in a frying pan and fry them until they are cooked. And put them on serving dishes, and if you wish, put a little vinegar on them.
500 g asparagus
1/2 cup of flour with some salt and pepper added
oil for frying
white wine vinegar
Trim the asparagus, and parboil them 3-4 minutes in slightly salted water; drain and dry on (paper or linen) towels. Heat oil in a frying pan (we used one of our hanging iron pots over open fire. If you do this as well, you should be extremely careful with the flames, as the oil quickly can catch fire). Dip the spears into the flour to coat them well and fry over moderate heat, gently but quickly. Turn to cook on all sides until lightly browned. Place in a serving dish and keep warm, when all spears are fried, sprinkle a small amount of vinegar over and serve at once.
When we made this, I had trouble to coat the spears completely with flour and consequently they were not much browned. Nevertheless, they tasted good. However, I thought to 'improve' the recipe a few weeks later at home by using a batter of flour and egg to cover the spears. This worked: the spears became browned, but, alas, the taste was a failure...
The 'improved' asparagus on modern plates: looks good, tastes bad.