Asparagus isn’t typically a food we think to fry in America, but the Japanese have been frying up vegetables since the 16th century, and Japanese-style tempura batter makes the perfect vehicle for fried asparagus.
If you’ve ever had tempura shrimp, you know that the Japanese method of frying results in lighter, crispier alternative to the American style that can be quite heavy. And asparagus is a perfect veggie for tempura, because the juicy, fibrous texture holds up well to the batter and hot oil.
Ok, fine – everything tastes amazing dipped in tempura batter and fried. But asparagus is particularly delightful.
*Recipe by L.A.’s Cal Mare, via The Food Channel.
- As needed vegetable oil for frying (preferably rice bran oil)
- 2 bunches (about 2 pounds) asparagus, bottoms trimmed
- 1 cup rice flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup club soda
- To taste sea salt
- 2 lemons, one cut in half, one juiced
- zest of 1 lemon, microplaned
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- ½ teaspoon dried lavender
- 1 egg yolk
- 1-½ teaspoons water
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Make the aioli: in a medium stainless steel mixing bowl combine lavender, lemon zest, garlic, egg yolk and water.
- 2 Place a small saucepan, half full with water, over medium heat. Drape a kitchen towel over the steaming water, using care to fold the towel to form a base for the mixing bowl.
- 3 Place the mixing bowl over the heat until the egg yolk begins to thicken. Drizzle the olive oil in a steady stream until a smooth consistency forms, then transfer to serving/dipping ramekins and refrigerate.
- 4 In a medium-sized bowl, using a whisk, mix the rice flour with baking powder, baking soda, and club soda. Season with salt.
- 5 Preheat 1 inch of oil in a large saucepan to 350F.
- 6 Dip the asparagus in the batter and fry in batches for 2 minutes each.
- 7 Drain on paper towels and season lightly with salt.
- 8 Serve warm with aioli for dipping.