THE KEY to the white asparagus, the sprouting symbol of spring, is to ensure that it is completely peeled. Its refined grassy flavor doesn’t need much flourish to shine. After we cut the stems for our soup , we boil the delicate tips until just right and serve them with lovage dressing. I love this wild herb for its celery-like taste.
Prepare each asparagus spear by laying it flat on a cutting board and lightly peeling from just below its tips to the end, rolling it clockwise as you work. Trim and discard the bottom fibrous 1 inch, and then trim the next 3 inches for soup, forming 4-inch long spears . Repeat with the remaining asparagus. Use butcher’s twine to secure bunches made of 5 spears. Reserve, chilled.
For the Herb Salad
Soak the herbs and frisée for 20 minutes in a bowl of ice water to crisp. Transfer to a salad spinner to dry. Reserve in the refrigerator covered with wet paper towels.
For the Almond Egg Yolk Sauce
Using an immersion circulator, preheat a water bath to 145°F. Transfer the egg yolks to a sous-vide bag and vacuum-seal. Transfer to the water bath and cook for 1 hour. Fill a bowl with ice water and submerge the bag in the water until completely chilled. Transfer the yolks to a small bowl and slowly whisk in the almond oil. Season with pepper, but do not salt, as it will make the sauce discolor. Cover and reserve, kept warm.
For the Lovage Dressing
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and place a bowl of ice water on the side. Boil the lovage for 1 minute, or until tender, then transfer to the ice water to chill. Squeeze dry and transfer to a blender with the oil and puree until smooth. Pass the lovage oil through a fine-meshed sieve lined with a coffee filter.
In a medium bowl, whip the egg white until it forms soft peaks. Slowly stream in the lovage oil while whisking. Add the lemon juice and season with the Tabasco and salt.
For the Poached Egg Dressing
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the egg and boil for 3 minutes. Scoop the egg from the water and crack it over a small bowl, scooping all of the white and yolk out with a spoon. Transfer to a blender with ½ teaspoon salt, the mustards, vinegar, and Tabasco. Puree on low speed, slowly streaming in the oils until emulsified. Transfer to a squeeze bottle with a large tip or a piping bag, and reserve, kept warm.
Fill a large pot with 2 gallons of water; add the sugar and season with salt. Bring to a boil, add the asparagus bunches, and boil for 9 minutes, or until easily pierced with a cake tester. Strain onto paper towels and cut away the twine. Transfer to a large bowl and gently toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the herb salad and almonds to a small bowl and season with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
For each serving, pipe a large dollop of poached egg dressing onto a warm plate. Spoon a dot of almond egg yolk sauce in the center and sprinkle with hard-boiled egg yolk. Scoop a spoonful of lovage dressing to the side. Arrange 5 warm asparagus spears on the opposite side of the plate and top with a crouton and herb salad.