(Asparagus officinalis) A member of
the lily family, asparagus is a native of Europe and has been cultivated
since the time of the ancient Greeks. However, some of the best
asparagus could be found in the markets of Thailand too, where it is
highly regarded and called nor mai farang (foreign bamboo shoot). No
longer is European style asparagus polonaise or asparagus with
hollandaise sauce the preferred method of serving this delightfully
flavored and tender shoot. Instead, it could be cooked in Thai style
with garlic, chilies and green peppercorns or even Chinese style, in a
sauce delicate enough to let the asparagus flavor shine through.
Purchasing and storing : Make sure
the tips of the spears are dry and have no odor. Look at the base of the
spears to make sure they are not withered. Freshness is of paramount
importance. If these criteria are met, it does not matter if the spears
are thin or thick - both can be tender and flavorful. If they have to be
kept for a few days, stand them upright in a beaker with 1 cm water in
the refrigerator. Cover with a plastic bag and fasten with a rubber band
around the container.
Medicinal uses : The part of the
plant used in herbal medicine is the root. It has been recommended for
dropsy, enlargement of the heart, etc. The fresh expressed juice is
taken in tablespoonful doses. More palatable in the form of a syrup and
is used as such in doses of 1-2 tablespoonfuls.