Patina of asparagus

Sally Graingers recipe for asparagus custard, adapted from the ancient Apicius collection of Roman recipes, is surprisingly delicate and unsurprisingly delicious
Patina of asparagus
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: medium


  • 300 g asparagus
  • 295 ml white wine
  • 45 ml fish sauce
  • 45 ml passum wine
  • 90 ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 5 eggs
  • 6 small asparagus

Tips and Suggestions

For a smooth custard, avoid beating the mixture too much to avoid air bubbles forming. Tap the dish or ramekins on a hard surface to get rid of any air bubbles.


1. Place the asparagus spears into a food processor and grind to fine pieces. Add 250ml of the white wine and leave to marinate overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2.

3. Strain the juice from the mixture by passing the liquid through a sieve lined with a cheesecloth, then squeeze out as much of the liquor as possible. Discard the asparagus pulp.

4. In a separate pan place the fish sauce, rest of the white wine, passum wine and olive oil and cook over a low heat. Grind the peppercorns and add along with the asparagus juice. Remove the pan from the heat.

5. Beat the eggs together and whisk into the sauce. Grease an ovenproof dish and pour in the custard mixture (alternatively, divide the mixture among individual ramekins). Place inside another larger dish filled with water and slide into the oven. Bake for 2535 minutes until the custard is just set.

6. Steam the garnish spears until just tender, while the custard is cooking.

7. Remove the custard, cool, and garnish with the cooked asparagus. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve.

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