Spargel (white asparagus) with Hollandaise and potatoes

It’s Spargelzeit ‘asparagus time’ in Germany! Spargel is very popular here. Full menus are dedicated to this white gold of vegetables, and Germans have no problem paying the high price when first available in the season. White asparagus is grown under mounds of dirt to allow them to thicken and not produce chlorophyl before picking. As far as we know, they can only be hand/picked by digging your hand and knife into the mound and cutting them off at the bottom.

This recipe is the traditional way it’s served here, with the addition of thick slices of “Katenschinken” which is a cured ham sold here in the north especially for this pairing. It’s such a wonderful way to celebrate the arrival of spring, especially when topped with fresh chives that will have sprouted in your garden if you grow them.

We buy our white asparagus from the farmer’s market, but you can find stands throughout the town and in the country that sell it. Different ‘grades’ are available (lower grades are just fine for soup), and some places offer automatic peeling machines so you don’t need to prep them yourself at home.

Ralph and I both love asparagus, but his favourite is green whereas mine is the white version. Both varieties are available here but only for a few months. After that, occasionally you’ll find a sad looking bunch at the grocery store. That’s why we eat as much as we can and never tire of it.


  • 500g white asparagus
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100g butter (approximately)
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • Potatoes (new ones if you can get them)
  • Fresh chives


  1. Peel from the head to bottom part of asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler, to avoid them being stringy. Depending on how thick the skin is you may have to peel a bit deeper. You can tell when you can pull any strings off.
  2. Cut off bottom part of each asparagus stalk.
  3. Place asparagus in a large pan, cover with boiling water, and cook at medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Cook your potatoes at the same time. Test for doneness with a skewer like a potato.
  4. Heat a non-stick pan on very low heat and add the egg yolks and a few chunks of butter.
  5. Whisk the butter and eggs together until the butter melts. Watch carefully and remove the pan from heat if it looks like the egg yolks are starting to cook.
  6. Add a few more chunks of butter and continue whisking as above. Repeat to slowly incorporate the butter similar to making aioli.
  7. When the sauce is thick (you may not end up using all the butter or maybe more) stir in the lemon juice and keep whisking until the sauce thickens up again. Taste and add more lemon juice if not tangy enough.
  8. Drain the asparagus and potatoes. Assemble on a plate.
  9. Ladle the Hollandaise sauce over the asparagus and top with fresh chives.

Serves 3 as a meal.


  • Save the peeled asparagus strips to make a stock (I learned this tip from my friend Tricia). You can either freeze it to collect more until you have enough for a stock, or do what we did and make a vegetable stock using other vegetables in your fridge. We added celery stocks, onions, parsley, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, and ends from parmesan cheese.

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