Asparagus used to be a seasonal item, available in the spring when California farms produced this vegetable. Today it’s also grown in Mexico, extending the season for most of the year. But even better is asparagus grown in Haleiwa: fresher, crisper, sweeter and right in our backyard.
Twin Bridge Farm harvests asparagus throughout the year, and it’s available at supermarkets and farmers markets. You can tell the difference between locally grown asparagus and out-of-state produced asparagus. The fresher, locally grown stalks are not as woody at the bottom, a sign of age that comes with shipping asparagus to Hawaii. The woody bottom is easily removed by just bending the stalk and snapping it where it breaks naturally. You’ll find less waste on island-grown asparagus, so while you might pay more for it, you’re throwing away less.
Fresh asparagus should be firm and bright green with tight tips. Store asparagus in the refrigerator; stand the stalks upright in a little water and cover the stalks and container in plastic wrap. Use fresh asparagus within a few days.
There are so many ways to enjoy asparagus: stir-fried with Chinese black beans, sauteed in butter, steamed with hollandaise sauce. For a side dish or light dinner, grill asparagus with a little olive oil and salt, and top with crisp crumbled pancetta or bacon, chopped hard-cooked egg and shaved parmesan cheese. Or served grilled asparagus topped with a sunny-side-up egg and shaved parmesan cheese; a drizzle of truffle oil is optional but divine.
Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" every Wednesday in the Star-Advertiser.