so, i'm cheating. a little bit, at least. i made the bagna cauda with the leftover anchovy butter from the other day. it's pretty straightforward, simply add a little olive oil to the mixture. i might be a little off about anchovies - i'm the girl you find standing at the kitchen sink and squeezing anchovy paste onto her fingers, closing her eyes, and licking it off.
my mother's back in my birth city right now, deep in bavaria. there, in germany, it's currently sparglezeit, the celebration of asparagus season. bavaria is crazy for asparagus, particularly the white version - grown in darkness, away from all sunlight where photosynthesis can never take place. i'm not going to even pretend that i eat mainly seasonally (bananas and tomatoes are year-round in this house), but asparagus is one of those things that is so unequivocally spring that i never make it outside of this season. it's supposed to work with showers and thunder, tulips and leeks and morels and fiddlehead ferns.
in this recipe, the asparagus are blanched and shocked - which both parcooks them slightly but mainly brightens their vibrant green color and locks it in. this works by expanding the gases within the plant's cells, which then collapses the cell walls, which causes the chlorophyll to become more obvious. the cooking is then completed on the grill pan to get that nice tender char from the more direct application of heat.
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp butter
1 oz anchovy paste
1 oz olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
bring a large pot of salted water to boil. place asparagus and cook until just underdone and still toothy. stems should be bright green. remove asparagus from water with a spider/tongs/slotted spoon. plunge asparagus into an ice bath. turn the heat down to a rolling simmer and add 2 tbsp white vinegar.
place a grill pan on over high heat and wipe with oil. once hot, place the asparagus on, turning after one side begins developing char marks. check regularly. once asparagus is fully cooked (not wimpy or soft) and has light char marks, remove. arrange on plate.
in a small saucepan, mix the butter with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and anchovy. cook briefly until the mixture is fully liquid and combined and garlic is fragrant. drizzle over asparagus.
crack your egg(s) into measuring cups. lower gently into the gentle boil and do not disturb. do these one at a time. set your timer for two minutes. at the two minute mark, check your egg. the white should have somewhat solidified and, while delicate, there should be no gooeyness. the yolk should be completely liquid and the egg should feel like it's about to burst. place on top of asparagus.