How José Andrés Brings Out Bold Flavors In Asparagus

Nothing says spring more than seeing asparagus on a menu. With over 300 species native to a variety of locations from Siberia to South Africa,  asparagus stalks are harvested for their buttery, grassy flavor profile, which sometimes can even taste a touch bitter, depending on the variety. 

Aside from simple roasted asparagus with a bit of garlic and a drizzle of olive oil, the most common way you're likely to see it served is with a classic hollandaise sauce. But, in true José Andrés fashion, you can count on the world-renowned chef to go a little extra with his dishes. He says that the secret ingredient for his recipe published in The Washington Post makes a richly flavored, but "dead simple" dish. And, in fact, it really is. Inspired by revered chef Nobu Matsuhisa's Black Cod with Miso, Andrés's secret to the most flavorful roasted asparagus you'll swear by from here on out is a bit of umami-rich miso paste.

Jose Andres's Miso-Roasted Asparagus

Miso is one of those ingredients that packs a punch when it comes to seasoning. It's most commonly made by fermenting soybeans with salt and kōji and comes in a variety of strengths and colors. The darker the miso the more intense its flavor which can lean a little funky from its umami-rich profile. So, the type of miso you use for Andrés's recipe is up to you. 

As he promises, the method of miso-roasted asparagus is pretty straightforward. Adapted from his and Matt Goulding's cookbook "Vegetables Unleashed" the recipe calls for a large bunch of asparagus, sugar, water, and miso paste. Start by whisking miso paste with sugar and water, and then spoon the mixture over a single layer of trimmed asparagus. After a quick six to eight-minute broil, the miso will turn a golden bubbly coating. That's when you know it's ready. 

If you don't like asparagus, this technique can be applied to almost any vegetable. Andrés suggests root vegetables as a perfect alternative, as well as rounds of eggplant. Take this inspiration from the pros, and run with it. It will be a dish your friends and family will request on the regular.