Farewell, English asparagus
The English asparagus season has officially come to a close, and I for one will miss our locally-grown bundles of verdant spears.
In order to successfully skewer asparagus for yakitori grilling we use the thicker variety, which needs peeling in order to avoid stringiness. An in-the-know chef will adjust the blades of his peeler so they only remove a very thin layer of skin; this can be done by pressing down firmly on the topmost peeler blade until it falls almost flush with the second blade.
Once the stalks are peeled, the tips left untouched, they are blanched bottom-half-first into boiling water for a few seconds. The colour change is magnificent; the raw stalks turn from flat, pastel green into vivid, deep jade. It’s a change I will never tire of watching. Each stalk is cut into 4cm lengths and skewered, the woody end is discarded.
After a whisper of vegetable oil and a few minutes over a charcoal grill, the finished skewer is served with a sprinkling of sea salt and a wedge of lemon. After all, the finest ingredients need little in the way of adornment.