CHEF JP GETS TO THE POINT ON INTERNATIONAL ASPARAGUS DAY
Today, Chef JP is celebrating International Asparagus Day with a grilled chicken breast, asparagus spears, glazed in a coconut butter and garnished with pan fried coconut flakes and a hint of ginger
Asparagus is a very seasonal and delicate vegetable to cook and one which even I, as an executive chef, take time to prepare to so that it reaches my table at its best.
Today, having been tempted to buy some asparagus at my local green grocer’s, I came home to discover that it is actually International Asparagus Day which comes complete with a special symposium.
Believe it or not, chefs around the world celebrate and meet up for a three-day seminar. There is a following for more than 100 chefs – including myself – who stay in touch to keep informed about this naturally tasty vegetable that can add so much flavour and texture to a meal.
What this also did was bring back memories of a special friend.
During my adventurous times as a chef at the World Chefs Congress in Johannesburg in 2011, I met up and had some crazy beautiful experiences with Chefs Beyond Borders. At the time, we all had a common goal and gave our hearts and souls to the Unite Against Hunger Campaign.
In future blogs, I’ll fill you in on that, but in the meanwhile, this is a tribute to a very special friend and fellow chef Michael Stautmanis. One of his many claims to fame was as a founder member of the World Asparagus Preservation Society. I had many interesting conversations with him – but none more so than his lecture on how chefs across the world were guilty of abusing the humble green asparagus.
His chief complaint was that chefs were so busy with the window dressing that they often forgot the basics – like washing each spear thoroughly to take away the grind and even soaking asparagus in salty water to make sure that it is super clean.
I bet you didn’t know that the best way to prep an asparagus spear before cooking so that it looks tres chic on the plate is to sharpen the end of the spear with either a very sharp knife or, better still, a good, old pencil sharpener! That’s foodie fashion for you…
What follows is my asparagus dish for the day and a toast to the chefs out there that appreciate asparagus. It’s a spur (or is that spear) of the moment recipe that came to mind.
Prepare a grilled chicken breast, dry rubbed with ginger, nutmeg, jeera spice and turmeric, and grilled with some good butter and peanut oil. Flip on each side for about five minutes until your chicken is perfectly cooked with a nice crust.
Rinse your asparagus well before steaming for 6 minutes.
Then, glaze your steamed asparagus spears in some honey and add some raw coconut flakes. You are now ready to spear up and plate your dish on some herbs with a dash of fresh cream. Garnish with some pickled ginger.
As I enjoy my special meal of the day, I’m toasting this world renowned chef who eventually went off to cook up a storm down under in Melbourne and, then, probably to help run a kitchen up above.
In his final online post at the end of 2018, he declared: “I’m old, decrepit, overweight and still full of life.” Sadly, not long afterwards, he passed away… and the world of asparagus is all the poorer for it!