Asparagus with Minted Hollandaise Sauce

2 bunches fresh asparagus
Hollandaise sauce
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
125g butter
2 egg yolks
salt
pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped mint

Cut off tough ends of asparagus, scrape spears a few centimetres up from end, tie in a bunch. Stand in a deep, tall saucepan and add boiling salted water to come halfway up spears. Cover tightly, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until asparagus is tender. Drain well. Asparagus can also be cooked in a covered shallow pan of boiling water, although the tender tips of the asparagus tend to cook more quickly than the stems. Hollandaise sauce: Simmer vinegar, bay leaf and peppercorns gently together, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to half quantity; strain, reserve liquid. Work butter until slightly soft. Cream egg yolks with a little of the butter and salt in top of double saucepan; stir in strained liquid. Stir over very low heat until just beginning to thicken. Add remaining butter in small pieces, stirring continually, and frequently removing saucepan from heat while you stir. When all butter has been added, add pepper and lemon juice. When ready to serve, stir in the mint. To serve, arrange asparagus on a plate, spoon sauce over.

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