"Purple Asparagus" - Full-bodied taste with a hint of sweetness.
Asparagus season has finally come to Hokkaido! While you may be accustomed to the white or green variety, this year keep an eye out for purple asparagus!
To find the purple asparagus I headed over to the Kuriyama HUG-mart, a shop we've previously featured on Hokkaido Likers. I For this trip I visited "Touji no Oka, Shizennoen" a natural farm. Of course they farm for a living, in fact they aprovide agricultural guidance in Hokkaido, but on top of that they directly sell products themselves and also offer personal farming experience to visitors. I spoke with Fuchino Iwao during my visit.
Here is our past article on HUG-mart:
-When did you first start selling these purple asparagus?
"It's a product we've had for about four years, although it's been in Japan for 10 years total now. We grow a type called 'burgundy'"
▲Mr. Fuchino Iwao from "Touji no Oka, Shizennoen"
▲A sign which lets customers know that the farm gives agricultural guidance in Hokkaido.
-What is the difference between the purple variety and the regular green or white asparagus?
"Well, the harvest is extremely small. For every ton of green asparagus we bring in we get about 500 kilograms of purple. Which is one reason there aren't very many producers. But the benefit is the value of the plant."
▲Grass and asparagus are natural enemies, competing over the soil's nutrients. Weeding and keeping them apart is very important.
-Is the taste any different?
"It certainly is. The texture is much more firm and has a strong and sweet flavor.
In my opinion the best ways to prepare the asparagus are baking, frying, and boiling, in that order. When heat is applied, the purple color turns into a dark emerald green."
When you enter the growing house the asparagus is growing abundantly, but surprisingly not uniform. There are short thin stalks as well as tall thick ones.
"This plant doesn't grow evenly due to differences between individual plants. But we have decided that we harvest them at 25 centimeters."
Delicious when fried, baked, or boiled, I had to have a dish featuring this wonderful vegetable. I took a trip to Sapporo based Italian restaurant "TRATTORIA DELLAMORE" and asked chef Yoshikawa to cook me up a dish!
We've also introduced "TRATTORIA DELLAMORE" on Hokkaido Likers before!
"Purple asparagus is also delicious raw! Even if you slice it thin it retains it's delicious sweetness. The color is wonderful and the dishes you can make are incredible!" explains chef Yoshikawa.
▲Thin sliced raw purple asparagus.
▲When cooked the asparagus turns a beautiful green.
Purple asparagus is available through mid-June, so be sure to pick some up soon! When in Hokkaido be sure to complete your trio of asparagus colors, green, white, and purple!
■湯地の丘自然農園 (Toji no Oka, Shizen-nouen)
(Toji 29-Banchi, Kuriyama-cho, Yubari-Gun)
■Article written in cooperation with:
Dellamore on facebook:
Some photographs courtesy of TRATTORIA DELLAMORE.