Wild Garlic Pancakes with White Asparagus & Homemade Hollandaise Sauce
It’s a bit of food heaven here in Germany right now as both wild garlic and white asparagus are in season. I know the latter isn’t as popular in other countries as it is here, where it’s often called white gold due to it only being available for a relatively short period of time, as well as the fact that harvesting it isn’t an easy job. The price is accordingly high, but apparently this year, due to frost, asparagus grew very well and in abundance, and is a little cheaper than usual.
I’ve combined wild garlic and asparagus a few times before and was thinking about possibilities to pair them up again; last week I finally had a vision of thick savoury pancakes, topped with asparagus, and the obligatory Hollandaise sauce. I have shied away from making Hollandaise before, but the shop bought versions mostly ruin the joy of the asparagus. So I chose a recipe from BBC Food to make my own today.
Had I known it was that easy and that – contrary to what people and food magazines tell you – you do not have to be ultra cautious in making it in order to not make it curdle, I would have made this long before now. I liked the consistency of the BBC recipe, but have to say the taste of the vinegar dominated heavily, so I would either try a milder vinegar – does anyone have experience with this? – or reduce the amount.
I countered the vinegary taste by thinning out the Hollandaise a little with some of the asparagus cooking water.
My prepping was a little uncoordinated today. I started by peeling the asparagus (the white variety needs to be peeled) and having it ready in the pot. Next I made the pancake batter, set it aside and then made the Hollandaise. A better way would have been to start the asparagus cooking at the same time as the pancakes. The Hollandaise takes about 10 minutes, so that could have been made while the other two could have been kept warm in the oven.
Everything still turned out quite perfect, even if it took me two pancakes to get the amount of batter in the pan right. I wanted to have thick pancakes because they were the main dish; normally in Germany you’d have ham or meat with this kind of dish but I knew thick pancakes would be filling enough.
The wild garlic makes for beautiful green pancakes, the consistency was done but moist, and combined with the asparagus and the Hollandaise it was a fabulous spring lunch. In my 16 cm ∅ cast iron pan, the batter made 6 pancakes – office lunch for the next two days!
Wild Garlic Pancakes with White Asparagus & Hollandaise Sauce
1 kg white asparagus tips or 500 g whole spears
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
4 medium eggs
300 g flour
3 tsp baking powder
280 ml milk
2 tsp salt
1 bunch (approx. 150 g) wild garlic, finely chopped
butter for frying
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
125 g butter
Start with peeling the asparagus and placing it in a pot of water with the salt and sugar.
Combine all pancake ingredients in a bowl and mix into a smooth batter.This is the point where you want to start cooking the asparagus.
Heat some butter in a small (cast iron) pan and add about 1.5 medium ladlesful of batter. Bake on both sides until done. Proceed with remaining batter. [Make sure to cut into your first pancake, as the outside will likely cook faster than the inside, and you want it evently cooked!]
[Starting the Hollandaise while the pancakes are cooking would be the perfect time, but can also be started when the pancakes are done; keep pancakes warm in oven in this case.]
Once the asparagus is done – about 10 – 12 minutes from the moment the water starts boiling – pour it into a colander but keep some of the cooking liquid in case you need to thin down the Hollandaise. Put a lid on the colander to keep the asparagus warm while you start the Hollandaise.
For the Hollandaise, heat the white wine vinegar with the peppercorns and bay leaf in a small pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the vinegar has reduced to 1 tbsp. Put vinegar aside, then on the same hotplate of the stove on very low heat slowly melt the butter.
Place egg yolks in a food processor and add the vinegar, close lid and slowly blend for a short interval. In a steady stream, pour the melted butter into the egg-vinegar-mixture while blending on low speed. Once all the butter is poured in, the mixture should have thickened nicely. If you find it too thick for your taste, add a little bit of the asparagus cooking water.
Serve the pancakes hot topped with the asparagus and Hollandaise, seasoned with some freshly ground black pepper.