Inspired by the classic pairing of asparagus and hollandaise, Merlin uses smoked hay butter to add terroir and accompanies with wild herbs for fresh acidity. An excellent summer side or vegetarian barbecue dish.


Preparation Time: 20mins
Cooking Time: 30mins
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Intermediate

  • 10 spears organic green asparagus, blanched
  • 10 young organic leeks, blanched
  • 6 organic free range egg yolks
  • 200g farm butter
  • Large handful of organic hay, washed and dried
  • 70ml cider vinegar
  • Handful of different sorrels
  • Salt
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Lemon juice

This dish was inspired by Merlin Labron-Johnson’s time spent working in Belgium, where he noticed that during asparagus season, white asparagus was often eaten with hollandaise or ‘mousseline’ sauce. He uses smoked butter to add an element of farm and terroir, and fresh herbs lend a freshness to an otherwise rich dish.

Smoke the butter over a mixture of wood chipping and hay using a barbecue or commercial smoker. Clarify the butter by melting it and then pouring the fat through muslin cloth and leaving the milky solids aside.

Whisk the egg yolks with 80ml water over a low heat until light and frothy and tripled in volume, remove from the heat and whisk in the smoked clarified butter as if making hollandaise sauce. Season with salt and cider vinegar and keep warm in a bain-marie.

Toss the vegetables in rapeseed oil and place on a grill or barbecue over a medium-low heat until warmed through and lightly marked. Season with salt and lemon juice.

Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and arrange in a circle. Top with wild herbs and spoon the smoked hollandaise into the centre.