flemish asparagus

asparagus with Flemish sauce
It is English asparagus season for which I will happily bellow three cheers (being such a shy and retiring person during the rest of the year . . .). But there are times when after I have sated myself with asparagus and melted butter or asparagus and Hollandaise sauce or even just asparagus dipped into a soft boiled egg, that I start to think about other ways of eating this glorious and short-seasoned vegetable. Will I do something spicy, Chinese-style? Or perhaps with a Mediterranean twist with lemon and chillies?

A recent piece on asparagus recipes by Nigel Slater in The Observer stated:

Fat is what makes asparagus worth eating – an egg-and-butter sauce, the hot fat from bacon or pancetta you have cubed and fried and used as dressing for the spears, the running yolk of a poached egg. Without butter or egg or bacon fat, or the liquid centre of a Camembert, Tunworth or other softly melting cheese, asparagus doesn’t quite hit the spot. Try it with melted butter to which you have added a shot of lemon juice.
Which reminded me of a recipe that I have seen in lots of old cookbooks from the 30s and 40s, including Ambrose Heath's classic Book of Sauces (1949) which describes a sauce, called variously "Flemish Sauce" or "Bruxelles Sauce".

If you remember the classic Morecombe and Wise "Andre Preview" sketch; "I am playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order", this asparagus accompaniment is the sort of sauce equivalent. It has all the same ingredients as a Hollandaise sauce but it is much easier to make (as there is no danger of curdling).

This sauce seems to have fallen out of fashion, which is a great shame. It is light and buttery and full of soft-boiled egg. Enough to keep Nigel happy and, of course, me.

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy


1kg steamed asparagus
4 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
200-250g butter
1-2 tbsp lemon juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, finely chopped


  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Season to taste. Stir in the chopped egg, lemon juice and parsley.
  2. Make sure the asparagus is drained well before serving with the sauce.


  • I prefer my eggs lightly hard-boiled. Medium eggs cooked in boiling water for 8 minutes, before shocking in cold water.

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