Pile of White Asparagus, Clos Des Iles, Le Brusc, Cote d'Azur, Var, France Pile of White Asparagus, Clos des Iles, Le Brusc, Cote d'Azur, Var, France
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Asparagus - The Royal Vegetable

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Johann Lafer's Warm Asparagus Salad
with Crawfish



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“The Germans are crazy about asparagus,
which shows their good sense.”

~ Jane Grigson, Book of European Cookery

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Asparagus Pickers, 13th Century Asparagus Pickers, 13th Century
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A Bunch of Asparagus, 1880, Formerly in the Collection of Painter Max Liebermann
A Bunch of Asparagus, 1880, Formerly in the Collection
of Painter Max Liebermann
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Manet, Édouard
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La Belle Cuisine


Johann Lafer's Warm Asparagus Salad

with Crawfish

1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1/2 leek
2 shallots
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons butter
3 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
1 cup dry white wine
24 live crawfish
Ice cubes

1 tomato
2 shallots
1 ounce hazelnuts
1 lemon
2 heads Boston lettuce (use hearts only)
1 1/2 pounds white asparagus
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
6 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
1/2 bunch chervil

Clean, trim and coarsely chop the carrots, celery, leek, shallots and garlic
and sauté them in the butter. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Deglaze with wine, reduce slightly and add 5 cups water. Add salt to taste and boil 10 minutes. Little by little, add the crawfish, head first, to the boiling stock, and cook them for 2 1/2 minutes. Remove the crawfish with a slotted spoon and place them immediately in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Peel the crawfish: first break off the head, then squeeze the body
and bend the shell toward the tail until the shell cracks open. Remove the
shell. Make a shallow cut along the back and devein the crawfish. Refrigerate them covered with plastic wrap.

For the salad
: Peel the tomato, quarter it and squeeze out the seeds, and
dice it. Chop the hazelnuts. Peel the lemon and remove the membrane that separates the segments of the lemon. Wash and trim the lettuce. Peel the asparagus and cut each spear diagonally into 3 pieces. Melt the butter in a
large skillet. Add the asparagus to the skillet and sauté it, stirring, about 5 minutes.
Season the asparagus with salt and pepper. Remove the asparagus from the skillet with a slotted spoon, drain it well on paper towels and set it aside. Add the shallots and hazelnuts to the skillet and sauté them in the butter. Deglaze with balsamic vinegar and reduce somewhat. Stir in the hazelnut oil. Add the asparagus to the skillet mixture, stirring. Then gently add the diced tomato, lemon, and crawfish. Heat this mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Arrange the hearts of lettuce on serving plates, place the warm asparagus
salad atop the lettuce, garnish with chervil and serve immediately.
4 to 6 servings.

  • Johann Lafer is Germany’s 1997 Chef of the Year.
    His restaurant is located in Stromberg.

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