Asparagus soldiers with bacon and soft boiled egg

Bjoern Weissgerber, head chef of Sexy Fish restaurant in Mayfair, has created a series of recipes from the new SexyFish brunch menu.

Ingredients: 

SERVES 4:

8 thick green asparagus spears

4 medium sized free range eggs (at Sexy Fish, we use Burford Browns)

16 slices smoked pancetta

2 tbsp white miso (available in good supermarkets and online)

A good pinch of Maldon salt flakes for cooking

1 brioche loaf (use a baguette if you can’t find a brioche)

A good handful (approximately 40g) of baby leaves for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper for serving

For the bagna càuda

75ml extra virgin olive oil

50g tinned anchovies

50ml soya milk

3 cloves of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped

Preparation method: 

At Sexy Fish we add about 1 ½ level tbsp (40g) of yuzu juice to the bagna càuda; it will taste great both ways, but if you want to add a little something extra to your dish then give this a try.

Bagna càuda (literally “hot bath”) is native to the Piedmont region in Italy and is often eaten like a fondue. In this recipe, you can either have the bowl on the table for people to “dip” their asparagus into, or you can give each person a tablespoon full on their plate.

Pour the soya milk into a saucepan and bring to barely a simmer. Put the peeled garlic cloves into the milk and cook until soft – this should take around 15 minutes. When the cloves are soft, add the anchovies and remove from the heat. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then blitz in a blender until smooth. Pour the liquid into a large bowl and gently stir in the olive oil. Once all mixed in, keep cool until ready for use. If you prefer, make the Bagna càuda the day before and keep in the fridge overnight.

For the asparagus soldiers, put a large saucepan of water onto the heat, add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Prepare the asparagus by peeling from about 3cm below the spear to the end of the stalk. This is time-consuming, but removes any “woody” bits. Trim the stalks about 2cm from the bottom. Plunge the asparagus into the boiling water to blanch for 30 seconds. Drain in a colander and run under the cold tap to stop the cooking process. Leave to drain over the sink. Then, lay them out on kitchen paper and pat dry.

Cut the brioche into long, thin, crustless slices – a couple of centimetres shorter than the asparagus spears. Spread each thin slice with white miso on one side. Stick this to the asparagus – keeping it level with the bottom of the stalk, so that the spear end is not encumbered by brioche. Wrap the pancetta firmly around the bread and asparagus, again, leaving the spear end free, to hold everything together. We have allowed for 2 pieces of pancetta per spear. Put onto a dish and cover with Clingfilm. Put into the fridge for at least 10 minutes to cool.

Put the asparagus under the grill and cook until the pancetta is crisp, turning regularly to ensure each side is cooked and being careful not to burn. During this process, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the eggs* into the water and cook for 6 minutes. Remove the eggs and plunge them into a bowl of iced water for 10 seconds (again, to halt the cooking process).

To serve, put the eggs out into egg cups on 4 individual plates. Put 2 asparagus soldiers to one side of the egg on each plate. Add a small handful of leaves and a tablespoon of bagna càuda to each plate, with a grind of black pepper.

* A good tip for preventing eggs from cracking during boiling – keep them at room temperature, not in the fridge

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