I inherited a 30′ x 2′ asparagus bed. It’s hopelessly, ridiculously weedy, so it doesn’t produce as much as you might think. But it does produce a lot–my family of four can have asparagus with dinner every night for six weeks. That is, if everyone in the family would actually eat it.
I love it (but even I get sick of it near the end). My husband likes it for about a week. My four-year-old likes the flavor, but strongly objects to funny smelling pee, and my three-year-old is just getting his first taste as a sentient being who can verbally accept or reject foods on his dinner plate.
So far, I can get him to eat one tip of one spear each meal. I’m hoping once he reaches the required 10-15 tastes researchers say it takes for a kid to start enjoying a new food, he’ll be an asparagus-lover.
Last weekend, inspired by Bon Appetite’s June 2013 recipe for Green Bean Tempura, I decided to fry up some asparagus. Everyone ate it–2 lbs of tender green spears disappeared in 45 minutes.
The stalks that were the best were the medium to large ones–the pencil thin guys got overcooked by the time the tempura coating was nice and crispy.
I’m terrified of frying anything–the spattering, the excessive amount of oil–it seems like a situation that will result in use of a fire extinguisher and a juice fast.
It actually went well, and the resulting dish is very light and crispy. if you keep the oil temperature up, the food doesn’t become overly greasy.
Here’ are a few tips:
- Use a deep pot in lieu of a skillet–keeps the spatters in.
- Use a candy or oil thermometer to keep the oil as close to 375 as possible. Oil may need to heat up between batches.
- If you want to use less oil, use a smaller (but still deep) pot. You will have to fry more batches and it will take longer, but you won’t need gallons of oil.
- Make sure you use fat with a high smoke point–I use sunflower oil or pastured lard.
- If you have leftover batter, all manner of vegetables are delicious tempura-d. Try sliced carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, pea pods, etc.
2 lb asparagus, medium stalks, fibrous bottoms snapped off (I cut most of mine in half so that they could be eaten in 1-2 bites)
Oil for frying (at least two inches in the pot, use a fat with a high smoke point like sunflower, safflower or lard)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12 ounces sparkling water
Additional coarse or kosher salt for sprinkling
Prepare asparagus–wash, snap and cut (if desired.) While doing this, heat two inches of oil in a deep pot. Use a candy or oil thermometer to track the temperature. It is ready at 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Whisk in sparkling water. Batter will bubble initially.
Have a plate lined with paper towels and a long-handled strainer handy for the finished vegetables. Use tongs to move vegetables from batter to the frying pot.
Drop some asparagus into mixing bowl and gently stir to coat. Lift a spear, let some excess drip off and gently place in hot oil. Don’t crowd vegetables in the pot–only fry one ‘layer’ at a time.
Let asparagus fry for 2-3 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove with strainer and place on paper towels. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Enjoy warm.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2-4 tablespoons sriracha (make it as spicy as you like)
Mix together and dip tempura in. This is also good with plain steamed asparagus.