The Seasoned Traveler

Recipes and remedies using herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients from the world's pantry

Steamed White Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce, Chervil & Ham


AsparagusTSTIt’s a little early for asparagus here in Germany, though buds are blossoming and fair-weather birds have returned, but we’re getting imported white asparagus from Greece with purple hues at their tips. Once steamed, the fat white spears turn buttery soft and sweet and go so nicely with a heaping of rich and lemony hollandaise sauce (made super easy with an immersion blender), a sprinkling of herbs (I used chervil here, but chives work well too) and coils of sliced ham. A plateful of flavors to usher in a glorious asparagus season!

AsparagusTitledTSTSteamed White Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce, Chervil & Ham

Makes 2 large plates as entrΓ©es or 4 smaller appetizers

(Hollandaise sauce method & recipe adapted from J Kenji Lopez-Alt’s “Foolproof 2-Minute Hollandaise” recipe on Serious Eats)

  • 28 oz./800 g., or about 20 thick white asparagus spears
  • 1 stick (112 g.) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. water (room temp)
  • 3 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (less than 1 whole lemon)
  • pinch of salt
  • more salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • large bunch of fresh chervil, finely chopped (or substitute: finely chopped chives, tarragon, or parsley)
  • 4 slices ham (optional), rolled and chopped to bite-size pieces


  1. Wash the asparagus spears and, using a vegetable peeler, strip off the tough outer layers of of each stalk, from below the tips all the way to the bottom ends. Toward the bottom, strip off twice the outer layers, as they tend to be toughest there. Then bend the stalks toward the bottom to find the natural breaking point – and either snap the ends off or chop at that point with a knife and discard the bottom ends.
  2. Prepare a metal steamer basket inside a pot wide enough to hold it, and add enough water in the pot to reach almost but not all the way up to the bottom of the steamer basket. Bring to a boil and add the peeled asparagus and cover. Steam until the spears are tender and a knife cuts easily through (this will depend on how large/thick the spears are, but roughly 15 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pot, swirling and letting it foam but not burn. When completely melted and foam subsides, turn heat off and use a spoon to scoop up any solids that accumulated on the surface or sides and discard. Transfer the hot butter to a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring.
  4. In a tall sturdy cup that just fits your immersion blender (I used the one that came with my immersion blender), combine the egg yolk, water, 2 tsp. of the lemon, and a pinch of salt. Blend with the immersion blender (using the whipping/pureeing attachment) for a few seconds, then add a tiny bit of the hot butter and continue to blend until emulsified. In the tiniest stream possible, drizzle the hot butter in, while continuing to blend and emulsify. Note: Make sure to keep the blender just below the surface of the liquid so it does not spray hot butter out, and keep the cup tilted away from you (and anyone else) just in case it splatters.
  5. Taste the sauce and add more salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and more lemon to taste (I like mine lemony and use the whole 3 tsps.).
  6. Plate the steamed asparagus with a heaping of ham, hollandaise and herbs. Enjoy!


Note: You might also consider Eric Ripert’s wonderful shortcut recipe for hollandaise using a standing blender; just make sure your blender’s top opening is narrow enough that hot butter won’t splatter out. Mine splattered, and my blender blitzed it to a foamy consistency (I suspect it’s my quirky blender or me, not Ripert’s recipe to fault). I prefer the immersion blender method for its ease, just one egg yolk, a perfect thick consistency, and no mess (if you’re careful!).


Author: Laura Haugen

Writer, Traveler, Foodie

33 thoughts on “Steamed White Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce, Chervil & Ham

  1. I’ve made something similar with Belgian endive, but white asparagus seems much more elegant. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  2. What a lovely plate of asparagus. I have actually never seen white asparagus, but am looking forward to making purple asparagus this week.

  3. This is so impressive. I’ve never actually had white asparagus. This looks wonderful!

    • We are lucky to be seeing white asparagus this early! It’s much more common here in Europe, but maybe you can find it at a farmer’s market? I guess it is the same as green asparagus, it’s just grown underground/covered somehow so it doesn’t synthesize the chlorophyll to get the green color. To me, it tastes a little different too – more buttery soft and juicy; but that may be because they tend to be harvested as bigger & thicker spears. Hope you can find some to try!

  4. Asparagus is a favorite here. The combination of chervil and hollandaise sound delicious!

  5. Beautiful,your photo say;s it all. Lovely, elegant and delicious!!

    • Thanks, Suzanne. I was thinking of you when I made this shortcut sauce and knowing you’d know just how to do it the classic, proper way! I’ve only done hollandaise using shortcut methods :/ Thanks for your kind words – I love asparagus so am excited to see it coming in; it seemed fitting to drench it in rich sauce and herbs and enjoy a whole plateful!

  6. Lovely recipe! I really like white asparagus, can’t wait to see some at the market some day (hopefully really soon)!

    • I hope it’s soon too – doesn’t it feel like the real start of spring when you see asparagus at the market? Well, it’s still early, and let’s hope we have a long asparagus season ahead of us! Thanks for stopping by, Darya!

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten white asparagus – I never see it British grown… Does it taste different to the green stuff? It always looks so fat and juicy!

    • That’s precisely how it is – fat & juicy, maybe because they seem to harvest it when it’s big & thick. They somehow grow it in darkness so the chlorophyll doesn’t synthesize and make it green. Though it’s the same vegetable as the green stuff, it does taste different to me – kind of buttery and soft, with subtle flavors. I hope you can find some to try it! Oh, and the jarred stuff is not the real deal – fresh is sooo good.

  8. Mmmm. I am going to keep my eyes out for white asparagus! This looks so elegant!

  9. Your dish is absolutely perfect! You are really good not only at cooking but even at doing your “food setting”…

    • So nice of you to say, but of course as soon as I looked at my pictures I wondered why I didn’t style things more neatly! It’s kind of a messy plate, though maybe it captures my mood in the moment – throw it together fast & eat it up! Looking forward to checking out your recent creations πŸ™‚ Cheers, -laura

  10. Lovely! Love white asparagus and your recipe sounds delicious.

    • Thanks, I’m excited about asparagus season, and I love starting it with these fat white spears and some rich fixings! Here’s hoping we have a nice long asparagus season to enjoy them every which way πŸ™‚

  11. What a delicious and pretty looking side dish!

  12. I planted asparagus last Fall. I’m not sure I’ll get any this year, but who knows? This looks very pretty, Laura, but then, everything you make is so pretty! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, that’s sweet of you to say, Angie. Hope you get some asparagus this year; how cool that you can be patient and wait to see how your garden grows after planting eons beforehand. Another reason I admire gardeners (and YOU)!

  13. This looks delicious. I’ve never had white asparagus, although I’ve heard that green is more flavorful and less bitter. But the sauce looks so good, I’m sure it’s a perfect pairing. Yum!

    • Thanks, Amanda. Yeah, I’d agree the flavor in green asparagus is stronger. There’s something nice about the subtle flavor of the white though. And it might just be me, but it seems juicier. Ah well, I love both and am excited to see them appearing at the market!

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  16. I cooked fresh white asparagus tonight in Texas. I made grilled sliced ham slice with it and topped it all with Hollandaise sauce. I wanted to add potatoes as I had in German restaurants, but ran out of time. I peeled the asparagus as I was told that the white asparagus peel is bitter and tough. We enjoyed it very much. We remember when living in Germany, that the white asparagus season was a big event. We ate all we could while it was still in season.

    Thanks for your information!!! RT

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