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Market Watch: Getting Excited For Asparagus Season

Chef Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant

There’s probably nothing I love more than asparagus season. And from the look of the carts I’ve seen chefs pushing around the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this week, I’m not alone. One chef in particular, Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant, stopped by the market on Tuesday to pick up asparagus for his kitchen and tell me about some of his favorite preparation techniques.

Mark chooses his asparagus according to how he plans to use it. He prefers the jumbo-sized spears for grilling. He will blanch them first in some salted water, “blanching the stalks before grilling keeps them juicy,” he tells me.  The stalks are then added to a simple spring salad with frisee, duck egg and duck bresaola. Mark says the rich flavors of cured meat and eggs are a good contrast to the fresh flavor of the asparagus.

For his asparagus soup, Mark prefers the pencil-thin stalks.  “I like my soup to be nice and green and you can only get that with the thinner asparagus because they have more green surface area than their jumbo cousins,” he says. To make the soup, Mark will sweat leeks and onions in a vegetable stock until translucent and soft. Then he will blanch the asparagus separately to help lock in the color. When all the ingredients have cooled he blends them together. “Waiting until the asparagus have cooled helps to keep the stalk from browning,” Mark says. Each bowl is then heated to order and garnished with a parmesan cream, a poached farm egg or some of his house cured Mangalitsa speck.

Asparagus is at its peak flavor right now. It‘s available from Zuckerman’s Farm, Dirty Girl Produce and Capay Fruits and Vegetables.