Steaming asparagus is simplicity itself and is one of the healthiest and tastiest ways to eat asparagus.
As the name suggests steaming vegetables, including asparagus, involves sitting the vegetables in steam rather than in water. The steam cooks the vegetables without allowing as much of the goodness to leach out into the water. It also produces beautifully tender vegetables that do not need to be soggy to be cooked.
There are some very cost effective ways of making steaming easier but we also show you how to be inventive and steam your asparagus with no special equipment.
Rinse and prepare the asparagus as usual, depending on how hungry you and your guests are determines how many spears you need to cook. – I work on the basis of about six to eight spears per person.
Choose your method of steaming from the various options below and steam for about 5 minutes then check that the spears have been cooked to taste, probably the best way is to use a fork to test that they are tender. Test the thicker end of the stalk as this will take the longest to cook. The length of time will vary depending on the thickness of the stalks and how well cooked you like them. Don't let them go too soggy, just nicely tender so that the fork will go into the thickest part of the stalk easily without resistance should be about right.
If they are still firm let them cook for another minute or too and then check again.
Lift the spears out of the pan and serve up adding butter to taste. Tongs are useful for lifting the asparagus out and onto the plate.
Being long and thin you need to find a pan that your asparagus will fit in without cutting them in half. Look for your widest or most oval pan that can be used on the hob. The wider the shape of the steaming vessel the easier it will be to hold the long thin shape of the asparagus so that it sits comfortably without having to cut it into shorter lengths. A large shallow frying pan with a lid works well, as does an oval "hob to oven" casserole dish or just the biggest round pan you have.
Now you need to look in your cupboards for something or things about an inch or 2cm deep that you can sit in the bottom of the pan for the asparagus to rest on. Our suggestion include a few metal cookie cutters, a pile of metal spoons or forks, anything that will sit in the water with the asparagus on top of it.
Put enough water in the pan to cover the bottom all over with at least 1cm of water and place the asparagus stalks on your cookie cutters or similar. Season with a little salt to taste and put the lid on the plan and bring the water to the boil.
Turn the heat down to simmer and steam as above for approximately 5 minutes, do remember to to turn the heat down, because it is surprising how little energy you need to steam vegetables when the lid of the saucepan is on. Turn the heat down a little, reduce your fuel bills and save the planet!
Be sure not to let the pan dry out or the bottom will burn.
All of the following equipment will enable you to steam asparagus with ease at a range of prices to suit all pockets.
If you have a standard vegetable steamer that sits on top of one or your pans this will work fine. Again the biggest problem will be the shape as the stalks may be longer than the diameter of the pan. You will either ave to bend them around a little or cut them in two leaving some pieces without a "tip". They'll taste just as good but won't look quite the same.
Fish steamers for either the hob or the microwave are usually a good shape for steaming asparagus as they tend to be oval or rectangular and long enough to accommodate the long spears.
We have a fish steamer for the microwave and this is our everyday preferred method of steaming asparagus. Once you get your timing right you can produce perfectly cooked asparagus with no messing around at all. We provide full instructions here. A fish steamer for the microwave might cost you around the $10 - $25 mark.
The specialist asparagus steamer is tall and narrow, designed to hold the asparagus upright so that steam can work its way up through the thicker ends of the stalks – it could be a great Christmas or birthday present that friends and family could put on their present list.
Many people tie the asparagus loosely in a bundle before setting them in this type of steamer. This makes it easier to lift them out once cooked but is not necessary for the cooking process.
Asparagus steamers start at around $20 but you can pay more!
Electric steamers can be used to steam all sorts
of food. These give great results with asparagus and are usually shaped in such a way that asparagus fits into them quite nicely. Follow the instructions that come with the steamer.
Butter is all that you need for a mouthwatering taste but now you know how to steam asparagus on the hob you could try a real treat of steamed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce.... beware the calorie count, its not low, but once in a while its well worth it.
The easiest way to cook Asparagus!
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Basics of how to cook fresh asparagusstart by looking at How to Cook Asparagus first for some background information on a range of cooking methods.
We have our own Asparagus Growing Expert ready to answer any questions we can't answer so ask away. All your asparagus growing questions resolved.