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Dave the Cook

Asparagus: thick or thin?

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Over in the "Tips for Determining Produce Quality" topic, a side discussion developed. It starts here. This important debate deserves its own measured, probing and considerate debate.

Even though thin clearly sucks.

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Peeling thick asparagus doubles the time investment: no thanks. If it's thick enough to need peeling, it's too thick. Cut it into smaller segments if the "stringiness" bothers you.

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I like thick and I like thin. Actually, I'll take it any way I can get it. I just treat them differently.

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I am with robirdstx. Different applications and almost different flavors. The thin seems to be is all green vegetal essence and the thicker starts to get into what I think of as artichoke (my own secret flavor code...)

As noted, they need to be dealt with differently. For the same price I will take the sturdy stalks, but when the bargain banner is out on the thin ones I am there. They need just the barest of heat to release the best (in my opinion) flavor.

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If the stalks are thick enough to require peeling then I leave them at the store - regardless of the price. The taste of the pencil thin is what I think of when I think of asparagus. We normally simmer them until they are just going limp and then serve them with home-made mayonnaise. Yum and then yum. I'm going to have to start watching the ads.

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My feeling is that if you can get good asparagus and you don't mind spending the time peeling, you get far more flavor and a superior (less fibrous) texture from thick asparagus.

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My feeling is that if you can get good asparagus and you don't mind spending the time peeling, you get far more flavor and a superior (less fibrous) texture from thick asparagus.

I don't mind the peeling, I just don't like the flavour as much on the thicker ones. I generally prefer mine grilled, with just a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. I've never had results with the thicker stalks compare to the skinny ones when I do them on the grill.

As far as the texture or stringiness goes, I've never noticed that with the thinner asparagus. They always seem nice and tender to me when I cook them, except for the very ends (and that's probably because I don't bother trimming the ends half the time.).

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We may not be talking apples to apples. There have always in my realm been the "regular" that I break off pretty low to the base with minimal waste, and the "fatties" that need a peel to avoid waste. In recent years there have appeared more often the pencil thin ones and really even thinner than pencil. They are bendable.

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Middle of the road here. Not twig thin and not extremely thick.

I agree.

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I like them medium to thickish. I more often than not grill them and the thickish ones hold up to the fire better and IMHO taste better. Not so grassy, more asparagussy. Also, I feel the skin on the larger ones is more porous and will absorb marinade flavors better.

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I grow my own, so I eat it all, thick or thin. I do prefer thick, and I never peel, because when you grow your own, you go out to the garden and break off the stalks--the woody part stays in the ground, and all you get is good, sweet, tender asparagus.

I don't buy asparagus--I am spoiled, and store bought 'sparrowgrass' is never as good as fresh. I just eat it for a month or so in the spring, and then wait anxiously for April to roll around again.

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Depends on the dish I'm doing. I live not far from where delicious asparagus is grown in the Tri-Cities region of Eastern, Washington, and I'm lucky to have a fresh supply of asparagus in late Spring and early Summer. I have the choice of using early season thin stalks of asparagus in delicate dishes like peeled, steamed asparagus with fresh hollandaise with poached eggs or tossed with fresh Oregon morels and pappardelle. Later in the season we'll use thick stalks of asparagus, steamed and used in cream soups and sauces to dress chicken or toss with more pasta. I don't find that thin stalks lack taste or that thicker stalks have a more bold taste. Each has a different taste and texture and we apply that to a different dish based on their characteristics.

We do, however, follow one rule: no "out of the local area, out of season asparagus at any other time of the year." I know, sounds quirky today when fresh asparagus is flown in from other parts of the country in February and I'm sure it is quite delicious. Call us Traditionalists.

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I almost exclusively buy asparagus at the farmer's market near my house, and rarely have I seen asparagus thicker than a Sharpie. It is usually the pencil-thin type, and it always tastes delicious.

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Thick asparagus is more tender and tastes better.

Thin asp is flimsy and akin to chewing dental floss.

Thick asp is grown when the plants are younger and under better growing conditions while the thin stuff comes from older plants.

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Flimsy? Dental floss? I guess maybe I've just been lucky, but the thin asparagus I buy here is excellent: no flimsier than a fresh green bean of the same diameter, and certainly not "dental floss."

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I've had stringy, flossy thin garlic before. But this is unusual ... generally I prefer the tenderness and the flavor of thin garlic. I'm curious to know why it's sometimes stringy, and if there's a way to tell before you buy it.

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garlic = asparagus?

The thin stalks are from older plants, therefore become a bit more woody and fibrous.

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I have found that the very thin pencil ones do separate into strands, if you will, when steamed or simmered past a certain point which, because of their thinness, is a quite narrow window.

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All this talk and no photos yet? Here are some thin spears that were marinated in a jalapeno evoo, grilled and topped with grated pecorino romano. These were very tender and flavorful. To be eaten with your fingers warm off the grill.

GrilledAsparagus.jpg

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