Spring Asparagus with Pea Flowers and Frozen Radish

Ingredients (21)

For the asparagus:

  • 4 asparagus spears, as fresh as possible
  • salt
  • lemon-infused olive oil

For the pistachio purée:

  • 1 cup pistachios, shelled
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil

For the chlorophyll and pistachio:

  • 1 1/4 cups spinach
  • 5 teaspoons pistachio purée
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • pinch of dried sansho pepper
  • salt, to taste

For the frozen radish:

  • 2 cups daikon
  • 1 1/4 cups fennel
  • 10 tablespoons cucumber
  • 4 teaspoons mirin
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 lovage leaves, julienned

For the pea and radish flowers:

  • 32 pea flowers
  • 32 watermelon radish flowers

To serve:

  • sansho powder
  • freeze-dried sake powder
  • lemon-infused olive oil
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Spring Asparagus with Pea Flowers and Frozen Radish

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at molecular gastronomy, this recipe from the new Brae cookbook, by Australian chef Dan Hunter, is a great starting place. Tender peeled and blanched asparagus spears are seasoned with salt and lemon-infused oil, then joined by several other elegant components: a spinach-derived chlorophyll and pistachio purée, a fluffy granita of frozen and shaved vegetable juices speckled with lovage leaves, and delicate edible flowers from pea and watermelon radish plants. Yes, there are several steps to undertake, but many of them can be performed ahead, and the strikingly pure result on the plate is certainly worth the trouble.

If you don’t have a Pacojet and can’t justify buying one, you can use a food processor to blend the pistachios. They won’t have the same perfectly smooth texture you can achieve with the higher-end equipment, but they’ll be good enough for your enjoyment at home.

Since you’ll be eating the flowers, make sure they are from a source that guarantees they are free of pesticides and safe for consumption.

To make the most of fresh spring asparagus, get our Roasted Asparagus recipe, and our Fettuccine with Pesto, Asparagus, and Artichoke recipe.

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by Dan Hunter

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    The revolutionary Pacojet is beloved by professional chefs worldwide. A serious piece of kitchen equipment, it allows you to micro-puree frozen food of any kind to create perfectly smooth mousses, sauces, emulsions, and sorbets that retain all the original flavor, aroma, and nutrients of the ingredients.

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For the asparagus:
  1. 1Prepare a bath of heavily iced water in a bowl.
  2. 2With a sharp paring knife, starting just below the head of the asparagus, peel the outer layer of fiber off each piece. It is important to peel in one motion from top to bottom, ensuring you do not peel too deeply or scratch the stems.
  3. 3Blanch the peeled asparagus spears in boiling salted water with a ratio of 2 teaspoons salt per about 1 quart of water. Refresh the spears in the heavily iced water. The asparagus should be just cooked with a little crunch.
  4. 4Once completely cold, remove the asparagus from the ice bath, dry, and trim the woody end from each piece. Season with a little salt and lemon-infused olive oil, and store, covered, until ready to serve.

For the pistachio purée:

  1. 1Combine the pistachios with the olive oil and place the mixture in a Pacojet canister. Freeze the pistachios, then Pacotize to a smooth paste.

For the chlorophyll and pistachio:

  1. 1Wash the spinach and process it in a juicer. Place the spinach juice in a saucepan and heat it, stirring constantly, to a temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the solid chlorophyll will separate from the water in the spinach juice. Pass the juice through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the liquid and keeping the solid chlorophyll left in the strainer. If the chlorophyll is still quite moist, spread on paper towels to dry. You will need 10 teaspoons of the spinach chlorophyll.
  2. 2Combine the 10 teaspoons of chlorophyll with 5 teaspoons of the pistachio purée, then add the sansho powder and a little olive oil. Season to taste. Store in an airtight container until needed, up to 2 days.

For the frozen radish:

  1. 1Individually juice the vegetables, and pass each individual juice through a fine-mesh sieve. Combine 1 1/4 cups of the daikon juice with 3/4 cup of the fennel juice and 7 tablespoons of the cucumber juice, then add the mirin and salt. Freeze this mixture to at least -4 degrees Fahrenheit, then pass the ice through a mouli grater (or grate on a Microplane) to achieve a granita texture. Fold the julienned lovage leaves into the mixture and fluff with a fork. Reserve, frozen, until needed.

For the pea and radish flowers:

  1. 1Using scissors, cut the flowers from their respective plants. Wash the flowers quickly in iced water, taking special care not to damage the fragile petals on the radish flowers. Pat each flower dry with paper towels and store, refrigerated, in airtight containers until needed.

To serve:

  1. 1On each of 4 plates, drag a tablespoonful of the chlorophyll-pistachio mixture down the middle, then sprinkle a little sansho powder over top. Lay 1 asparagus spear down the right side of the purée and scatter 8 of each kind of flower to the left. Sprinkle some freeze-dried sake powder over the asparagus and drizzle a little lemon-infused olive oil over the plate and other ingredients. Add a large spoonful of the frozen radish to the right of the asparagus and serve.
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