I am not someone with addictive tendencies—in fact, I’m an exceedingly, sometimes overly moderate person. I like a little bit of one thing here, and a little bit of another thing there, and lots of different things all the time, and not too much of any one thing ever. The exception to this is when something like asparagus swings into season at the farmer’s market. Absolutely all my self-control goes out the window in favor of carving out a very sizable budget for peaches or tomatoes or, in the spring, wonderfully green, gorgeous, and alive asparagus. I just about ran home from the market with the first asparagus of the season, steamed it in a pan, and then consulting my very odds-and-ends-filled refrigerator.
Knowing how much asparagus loves cheesy, salty, funky, richness (think asparagus in quiches or eggs Benedict or with sauce gribiche or eggs mimosa or roasted with Parmesan.) I emerged with a tub of miso and the butter dish. Mashed together and tossed with the hot asparagus, the miso butter makes a salty, savory sauce, and it really is just the thing for the very green, very demure on its own asparagus.
Another reason I love asparagus: It is totally kosher to eat it with your fingers. This is even true when it is dripping with butter. This is what I did with this asparagus the first time I made them and then the next day, when I made them again. And again when I made them for friends. We made a big plate of them and sat there with it between us, forgoing our forks, reaching for the stalks.
If you add eggs to the equation, you have to add the fork back in, too, but you get a really lovely brunch, one that feels a little fancy (asparagus just feels sort of elegant, doesn't it?). It also takes a scant 10 minutes to put together, and is very easily batchable, making it an ideal choice for breakfast if you’re having a crowd over—or if you’re just trying to pull together something for yourself in the same time it takes to make a cup of coffee.
Asparagus with Miso-Butter and Eggs
- Yields: Serves 1, easily multiplied
Set aside just a wee bit of the tablespoon of butter—you’ll use it for greasing the pan when you go to fry your eggs in a minute.
Mash the rest of the butter together with the miso in a small bowl. Set aside.
Set the asparagus in a frying pan that has a tight-fitting lid. Add a splash of water, set on the lid, and turn the heat to medium-high. (If you want to make yourself some toast, get that started now.) Let the asparagus steam like this until bright green and tender; the exact time will depend on how thin your asparagus stalks are—less for slender, twiggy stalks and more for fatter ones. A good middle-ground estimate is about 3 ½ to 4 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally and keep checking—you’ll know when they’re done.
Drain off all but about a tablespoon of water (or, if the water’s gone, add a tablespoon) and turn the heat to low. Drop in the miso butter and swirl, gently tossing the asparagus in the butter to coat. It should look slightly saucy. Set the asparagus on the plate you plan to eat them off of, and cover them with your pan lid so they stay warm.
In the same pan you cooked the asparagus in, cook your eggs, being sure to add that slip of butter you saved before. I like fried, but scrambled or poached or soft-boiled would also be lovely.
Set your cooked egg over the asparagus, and spread any miso butter clinging to the bowl you made it in on the toast. It’s especially nice with a bit of honey drizzled over.