The combination of white asparagus, smoked salmon, and Hollandaise sauce is a classic one. With homemade Hollandaise, sous vide asparagus, and home-smoked salmon it is a lovely appetizer. You could substitute good quality store-bought smoked salmon and steam the asparagus instead, but making Hollandaise yourself is definitely worth it and not at all difficult if made using the technique I describe in this post.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
8 white asparagus
225 grams (.5 lb) smoked salmon
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 egg yolk
75 grams (5 Tbsp) butter
salt and freshly ground white pepper
Peel the asparagus and remove the bottom 1 cm (1/2 inch). Do not peel the tips.
If you are boiling the asparagus instead of cooking them sous-vide, make a stock from the peels and bottoms first by simmering in water for an hour with a bit of salt and some white peppercorns. Bring that stock to a boil (with the peels and bottoms still in there) and add the asparagus. Turn off the heat and allow the asparagus to steep in the hot water for 20 minutes or until they are done to your liking. This way, the result will be very similar to asparagus cooked sous-vide.
To cook them sous-vide, season the asparagus with salt and freshly ground white pepper, and vacuum seal them. If using a FoodSaver-type vacuum sealer, it helps to dry the asparagus well before vacuum sealing and to arrange them sideways (i.e. not with the bottom towards the opening of the bag). Cook them sous-vide for 45 minutes at 85C/185F. Depending on the thickness of the asparagus or your personal preference, more or less time may be needed.
Slice the smoked salmon thinly with a sharp knife.
To make the Hollandaise, put an egg yolk, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar, salt, freshly ground white pepper, and 75 grams of butter in cubes in a cold saucepan.
Stir over medium-low heat…
…until the butter has melted, then lower the heat…
…and keep stirring over over low heat until the sauce has thickened to the consistency of mayo.
Here I have added the liquid from the sous-vide bag to the sauce and whisked it in, to add asparagus flavor to the sauce.
Serve the asparagus with the salmon and the Hollandaise.
This is great with a brut but creamy champagne, crémant, or cava. The creaminess of a sparkling wine made using a second fermentation in the bottle increases with the time the wine has been allowed to age with the lees still in the bottle, so a vintage champagne or cava gran reserva is the best choice here.
These oysters with a Chinese black bean sauce are a famous dish from Chinese restaurant Nam Kee in Amsterdam. Not just because a book and movie have been named after them, but also because they are so good.