Scallops w-asparagus blog with credit
Asparagus is in season, it’s pretty much the only time we eat asparagus all year, so we eat a lot of it.  One of my favorite asparagus pairings is scallops, something about their sweetness that intertwines with the floral rush of asparagus. I remember exactly when I learned this.  I was hanging out in The French Laundry in 1998, talking about cooking with the 23-year-old fish cook who was slicing truffles, Grant Achatz.  The dish was his, new to the menu that day: one of Ingrid’s amazing scallops on asparagus sauce with truffles, the scallop topped by a disc of truffle and a small bundle of asparagus tips tied with a chive.  I never tasted his dish, but I wrote about it (Grant’s recipe is in Soul of a Chef), and I’ve been making this simplified version of it ever since.

But it’s not only the pairing that I love about this preparation.  It’s the all-purpose soup/sauce method that’s equally valuable.  It’s very easy and if you have a fine mesh strainer it will attain an elegance that far exceeds the degree of difficulty, which is a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10.  It’s that easy.

Blanch your asparagus in heavily salted water.  Shock them in ice water when they’re tender, puree them in a blender with a little ice to get them moving, season with salt. If you want it to have a silken texture, strain it through fine mesh.  When you reheat, whisk in some butter and season with lemon juice.  You can do this with any green vegetable for a fantastic soup, so fresh and clean and vivid (second photo down on this post is pea soup using this method).  We had a lot of asparagus so the above, photographed while I impatiently tapped my foot, hungry to eat, is really asparagus soup garnished with sautéed scallops and whole asparagus.  Spring at last!

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39 Wonderful responses to “Scallops and Asparagus: A Perfect Pair”

  • luis

    Michael, I am eating a big bowl of Asparagus soup.
    Nice going man! So fresh, from now on this is how I make soup! I did add a pinch of cayenne but I taste the basic ingredient, the lemon and the butter…niceeee!
    You have really taught me what soup is all about. So easy to make too.

  • Dave S

    I’ve never had, or heard of this combination. It’s not asparagus season in central NY, (and it’s never scallop season) but I love both and as you wrote “it’s pretty much the only time we eat asparagus all year, so we eat a lot of it”. So, when the local asparagus shows up, I will have to find some scallops…

  • luis

    Just like in RATIO, Rhulman didn’t just show you how to make scallops and asparagus soup…. Rhulman empowered you to make ONE GAZILLION FRESH VEG/other SOUPS….MORE even!.
    I will never look at another soup recipe book….again.! Maybe for inspiration but never to make anything from a recipe again.

  • David A. Goldfarb

    Local asparagus just hit the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan this week. I grilled it stovetop, bright green with just a little crunch last night with mahi-mahi and garlic butter, and the fish was good, but the asparagus stole the show.

    Have to get some more and try that puree.

  • Trish

    Great post. Lovely photo. My three word review: Dinner. Tomorrow. Night.

    Thanks!

  • JunkyPOS

    My sincere apologizes to Donna and anyone else for my comment (Tony ;)… yeah right)…

    I do love asparagus also and the PIZZA and now scallop soup combo might have pushed me a bit. Hey!! I did order the butchers twine. Just need to figure out the ratios. Thank you!!

    I’amma somewhat ~Disturbed, I admit.

    “Get down with the sickness”…

  • Jeannie

    Going to the GCM here in Chicago tomorrow, hoping asparagus will be there, great picture by the way!!!!

  • Rhonda

    Derek:

    A chinois is fantastic! However, in the meantime, use a normal strainer lined with a coffee filter.

  • NancyH

    Donna’s photos just get better and better – I just told my husband that we need to grow asparagus next year!

  • Bob delGrosso

    A fraking ground hog mowed down all of my asparagus this week. I will celebrate his death-and his contribution to my compost heap- along with his good taste forthrightly.

    Thanks from me and the Roux brothers for a gorgeous rendition of a nouvelle cuisine classic.

  • vincent

    looks yummy man – we’ve been lucky enough to have asparagus at some organic farms here for about 4 weeks now. 2 of them use guinea hens as bug killers as well so the delicious eggs are a natural…

  • Wilma de Soto

    How about gently pan-fried Shad Row with Saffron Bouillabaisse with Aspargus over a bed of Inoki Mushrooms? Yum!

    Nothing here suggests Spring like the running of the Shad and fresh
    Asparagus.

    The Schuykill and Delaware Rivers are teeming with Shad now.

  • JunkyPOS

    Bob!… thanks for the fraking laugh as always!!

    Ruhlman…Bourdain wants some of your pee.

  • Michael Booth

    Michael, where do you stand on the fiercely debated (in my house) griddle/roast/boil/steam options regarding asparagus? Grilling or frying seems to me to concentrate their flavour better…

    Still, it’s all academic to me here in Copenhagen. Season blimmin’ well hasn’t started yet.

    Also, a side issue, but it amazes me that more people don’t have a fine mesh strainer in their kitchen.I’d say it was one of my top 10 kitchen tools.

  • ruhlman

    i’m sure donna thanks those who commented on the shot. it’s not one of my favorites–as someone pointed out, the asparagus don’t glisten and the zest is in an awkward clump. but that’s also what i liked. donna did not light this or style this, this was shot on the counter and was devoured moments later. real food as it looked, not gloriously lighted and fussed over. i like those too of course.

    bob, thanks for pointing out this was a NC classic.

    michael booth: it’s known that some flavor leaches out into the boiling water, so from purlely flavor stand point, anything but boiling is best. that said, there are still good reasons to boil, especially if you want vivid color.

  • Dick Black

    So Bob del Grosso eats ground hogs then ?

    Is that what you are trying to say Bob ?

  • Conway Yen

    An eye for an eye, man. That’s how I wanna roll. A few years ago, I almost died in a car accident because of a possum. Now, I’m bent on eating possum before I die. And if I had the choice, I think getting eaten would be a fitting and ironic death for me.

    I’m more interested in how BdG would cook the damn thing. I think I’d braise some possum face.

  • Conway Yen

    * I think BdG was saying that the groundhog had good taste in choosing to eat asparagus.

    This changes nothing between me and the possum, though. Revenge shall be mine.

  • Conway Yen

    Derek – Depending on what you’re straining, and what the final application of the strained liquid will be, all you’ve really got to do is look at the thing. If the mesh looks very fine, it should be good to go.

    If you want to test it, you can cook and puree something (i.e. some carrots), strain it, and taste it. If it feels gritty on your tongue and against the roof of your mouth, then your strainer could stand to be a bit finer, if perfect, velvety smoothness is what you’re looking for.

    You can also help your strainer along by wetting a couple layers of cheesecloth, which will help you with your straining, as well. If you’re making something that has to be perfectly clear and free of particulate matter (i.e. consomme), you can use some disposable coffee filters. Easy.

    Williams-Sonoma sells a very fine mesh chinois. It’ll set you back around $70.00, but it does a very fine job. No pun intended.

  • Conway Yen

    Natalie – to retain the green color, make sure your water is properly salted (it should taste like sea water) and at a rolling boil when you begin to blanch green vegetables. Also, be sure not to let the water lose its boil, or else you’re not doing it correctly. Thoroughly shocking the green veg ensures that the bright green color stays. This, if I’m not mistaken, is how Thomas Keller does green vegetables. Spinach need not apply.

  • Derek Jones

    Side question — How do you tell if a strainer is a “fine mesh strainer?” I’ve got a few strainers and I’ve never seen a strainer with smaller holes, but I’ve always worried that there is a special strainer shop out there somewhere selling the real thing while the clerks snicker at poseurs like me.

  • Dick Black

    In many parts of the country, especially the Great lakes regions, asparagus is still a few weeks away.

    Another great combo is scallops and whole sugar snap peas. The sweetness of the peas compliments the scallops well.

  • Natalie Sztern

    As u talk of scallops, zencancook.com has written about your knockwursts from charcuterie…those are some dang dawg good-looking knockwursts, ya know the kind that makes u wanna say “is that a knockwurst in your pocket or are….”

    so how’s about your favorite hamburger mix for the coming hot weather barbees?

  • Rhonda

    Beautiful post and picture.

    Where the hell is our asparagus? It’s almost bloody May!!! I think Mother Nature went on a bender and slept in. :(

  • Jesse

    I will definitely give the puree method a go. Seems like a very fine thing to enjoy during Spring.

  • amber

    Yum! Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. I realized earlier this year that I particularly like it with shrimp. I’m guessing I’d probably love it with scallops, too.

  • kevin

    Michael,
    When my parents still owned a farm they had two 30-foot long asparagus beds. One spring they went to Europe and I was lucky enough to house-sit for them. I was eating just-cut asparagus three times a day for two weeks. Heaven!

  • Jesse

    You’re making me miss spargel with hollandaise and boiled new potatoes. Perhaps an optional fried egg. Badly. Must… find…

  • Grady

    great minds think alike, MR. I had this (your version) recipe on my menu each Spring when I was still in operations a few years ago. Add a glass of Spanish Albarino or Sauvignon Blanc (not from New Zealand, toooooo acidic), and shazaam!