Contrast is a great way to make any food more exciting, whether it's colors, texture, or tastes. This dish pairs dry-cured ham crisped in a microwave oven with pan-roasted asparagus glazed with honey. Each bite unleashes a crisp umami explosion from the ham that mingles with the sweet glaze before being washed away by the juicy asparagus.
Asparagus isn't a traditional Japanese vegetable, but it's caught on recently and become a popular springtime veggie. The problem is that the stalks tend to go for a few dollars EACH, so I like to make the most of each one. The most fibrous part of the asparagus is the skin near the base, so by peeling the bottom two-thirds, you don't need to trim very much off the stalk.
As for the crispy ham, this should work with almost any very thinly sliced dry-cured ham such as prosciutto, jamón serrano, or speck. You can also crisp bacon using a similar method, but if you're doing bacon, I recommend placing it between a few layers of paper and placing a plate on top to keep the bacon from curling. You'll also need to increase the time in the microwave to suit the thickness of your bacon. When in doubt, go with a shorter time, as you can always pop it back into the microwave to continue cooking it, but you can't undo burnt ham/bacon.
Honey Glazed Asparagus with Crispy Ham
The contrast of the crisp salty ham with the sweet and smoky honey glazed asparagus makes for a joyful mouthful of flavors and textures.
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