Asparagus with fried egg and salsa macha

Salsa macha is a Mexican sauce. Garlic is poached gently in oil, followed by peanuts, dried red chillies and sesame seeds. The resulting (highly addictive) oil is drizzled over the hundreds of different seafood tostadas; a dish found up and down the coastline of Baja California.

But it adds excitement to almost anything it touches, and goodness knows we need a bit of that while were all still cooped up at home. This is hazelnut version, which is glorious with asparagus.

Chargrilled asparagus with a fried egg and hazelnut salsa macha

Burn a little butter to combine with the salsa macha towards the end of this recipe, but you could easily skip that part.

Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 2

300g asparagus
4 eggs
60g butter
1 handful parsley, leaves picked

For the salsa macha
5 large garlic cloves
, peeled
60g hazelnuts
40g sesame seeds
10g dried red chillies
½ tsp caster sugar
3 anchovies
300ml flavourless oil (I used groundnut)
1 tsp flaky salt

Start with the salsa macha. Heat half the oil in a small pan over a very low heat, add the garlic cloves and simmer in the oil until golden – about five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl.

Now fry the chillies until gently darkened in colour but not burnt – one to two minutes. Transfer to the bowl, and repeat with the hazelnuts, toasting until they, too, are a pale gold. Remove the nuts, roughly chopping half of them for the garnish, and put the rest in the bowl. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan.

Blitz the sesame seeds and chillies in an upright blender for one minute. Now add the whole hazelnuts, the garlic, sugar and anchovies (if you are using them) and pulse a few times. Add just enough oil to blitz to a rough paste. Add the rest of the oil, including the cooking oil, pulse once more, and taste, adding enough salt so that it tastes rounded and delicious.

When you are ready to eat, heat two serving plates. Steam the asparagus for five minutes, then transfer to a griddle and cook over a very high heat until it is beautifully charred and tender.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in the same frying pan you used to toast the sesame seeds, heating until it starts to turn deep brown. Transfer to a small bowl and pour in roughly the same amount of the salsa macha (be sure to stir before you add it). Keep this mixture warm.

Wipe the pan, then fry the eggs in a little more butter until crisp around the edges. Serve the eggs on top of the grilled asparagus, pour over the sauce, then scatter with the parsley and chopped nuts. You will need lovely bread to mop up the sauce.


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