This recipe is adapted from Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan (Clarkson Potter 2009). I accidentally made it with hatcho miso instead of the intended lighter miso, and it was still wonderful. If using a more intense miso, I recommend cutting the portion in half. This is a great way to add a new twist on a traditional dish.
Eve Turow for NPR
Eve Turow for NPR
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup shiro (sweet, white) miso
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more if needed
1/2 pound thin to medium asparagus
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
4 poached eggs*
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine miso with 5 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl and blend until well mixed. The butter should be one color. Set aside.
Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the bottom inch and peeling away the rough outer layer.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Line a plate with paper towels for draining the asparagus. When the butter begins to smoke, put the asparagus in the pan. (Be sure not to crowd the asparagus. Do it in two batches if necessary). When the asparagus start to take on some color, after 2 or 3 minutes, season them with a generous pinch of salt and turn the heat down to medium. Turn them with a spoon or spatula so they color on the second side, another few minutes. When the asparagus are nicely browned and tender (but not too soft), transfer them to the paper towels to drain.
While the asparagus is cooking, heat the sherry vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. After a half-minute, add the miso butter, turn the heat to low and stir to warm it through. When the butter has loosened slightly, but not quite melted, remove the pan from the burner and put it in a warm spot, preferably in a warming oven.
Season the cooked asparagus with another pinch of salt if needed. Smear a quarter of the warmed miso butter into a thick puddle in the middle of each plate. Divide the asparagus among the plates and top each with an egg. Finish each dish with a few turns of black pepper and serve at once.
* To poach an egg, bring a pot of water with a tablespoon of vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Gently crack egg into the water, cradling the egg with a wooden spoon. Let sit for 2 minutes, then remove from the pot and place on plate with paper towel to absorb excess water.