Friday, 2 May 2014

Asparagus tempura

We too have officially kicked off the long-.awaited asparagus season. Patience has (and never will) been one of my strong suites, so I didn't bother to wait around for the domestic produce to hit the shelves. 

For a while now I have been craving tempura, so that's what we made. Luckily there was no pressure: After Gastrobar Emo took The Boy Next Door's asparagus virginity he can't get enough of the stuff now. Or stop feeling amazed at "the incredible, almost meaty versatility". 

Even the professionals can't always get their tempura right, as that lunch in El Chorro proved. Depending on the vegetables you're using (and their size) you might want to parboil them first as they don't really get to spend that much time in the fryer. Remember to pat them dry before coating them with tempura batter. The batter needs to be thin enough so it has time to cook and you're not left with weirdly cheesy and doughy uncooked tempura. You also want to make the batter right before frying. 

In order to get the perfect airy light and crisp exterior the oil needs to be hot - that way the batter crisps up the moment it hits the oil and won't get soggy. As you probably don't have industrial strength deep fryers at home, you'll have to fry them in batches so the temperature won't go too low. Remember to make sure the oil is hot enough before each batch (180°c should you have the right thermometres). For everything else you should remember about deep-frying, please see here

As you dabble with tempura, remember that like with any deep-frying they are best right after they come out. The longer you wait to get the angle and camera settings right, the more likely they are to get soggy... Oh, and for gluten-free alternative you can use rice flour. Soda water can be replaced with beer, too!

Asparagus tempura:

500 g bunch of asparagus

Trim the asparagus (that's removing the dry, woody ends) and parboil (or steam) for a couple of minutes. Shock them in ice water (this stops the cooking process and helps them maintain the colour). Pat dry.

Tempura batter:

3,5 dl all purpose flour
1/4 dl corn starch
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 dl ice cold soda water

First combine the dry ingredients and then pour in soda (it's easier to get smooth lump-free consistency this way). Stir quickly until the mixture is smooth. Dip the asparagus into the batter and fry in batches. Drain on kitchen towels and serve immediately. With mayo if you want (how about mango, chilli and ginger mayo?) or with Asian-inspired dip. 

Dipping sauce:

1 dl soy sauce
1/2 dl honey
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
a couple of drops of sesame oil

Combine the ingredients and serve with tempura. This also makes a great marinade!

And The Boy Next Door's verdict? "Lends itself to a surprisingly seafood-like experience". Oh, and "the best asparagus I've ever had!". Emo 0 - food blogger 6!




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