Asparagus, Buttermilk, Smoked Oil


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    : You will Need to Begin this Recipe 1 Day Ahead

Appears in


By Ben Shewry

Published 2012

  • About

At Attica we use the buttermilk that is produced every day as a by-product of making cultured butter. It is nothing like commercially made buttermilk, which reminds me of thin yoghurt as it’s mainly produced by directly fermenting skim milk.

The quality of the cream is the most important factor when making butter and buttermilk. We buy exceptional organic cream from a small herd of Jersey cows from Lakes Entrance, Victoria. To me, the milk and cream from the Jersey cow is king. It is truly a magnificent beast, known to be curious, affectionate and gentle. Its milk has been described as bovine wine. The farm we buy our milk from is independent and processes its own milk and cream in-house, which is very rare now.

In my teenage years, my family sold the sheep and cattle farm and bought a small dairy farm. My father provided us with raw milk to drink. It was a bit of a shock for us children as we were used to commercially processed milk; the flavour and fat content of raw milk were so completely different. With raw milk you can taste the nuances of the cow’s diet, the seasonal variations in pasture, the effects of drought and the breed of the cow itself — all these factors affect the flavour of raw cow’s milk. The majority of dairy products today are controlled and produced by huge corporations that care only about volume production and profit margins with little emphasis on the flavour of the milk or the welfare of the farmer or their cows.

The recipe I’ve included for culturing butter is straightforward: add a little yoghurt to cream and ferment it overnight, but you can also make cultured butter by directly inoculating the cream with cheesemaking bacteria.

To Finish

  • 12 white asparagus spears, snapped and gently peeled
  • 8 green asparagus spears, snapped and gently peeled
  • smoked oil
  • sea salt flakes, to taste
  • 1 g (1/32 oz) fresh wild fennel pollen
  • 16 wild fennel tips
  • small grind of white pepper

Bring a 5 litre (175 fl oz) capacity saucepan filled with salted water to the boil. Blanch the asparagus for 1 minute, then drain. Dress the asparagus with the smoked oil and season with salt.

Place 5 asparagus spears on each plate. Pour some buttermilk over them. Sprinkle with the fennel pollen and fennel tips. Drizzle a generous amount of smoked oil over the asparagus. Finish with a small grind of pepper and a small pinch of salt.

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