I found a wonderful recipe for dumplings with a filling featuring asparagus so I wanted an Asian-inspired side to go with them. I could have made an asparagus lo mein (and I sort of did later), but I settled on what I expected to be a light and sophisticated treat: asparagus tempura.
Recipe #3: Asparagus Tempura with Ponzu Sauce
Every other week GreenMade will be featuring a new vegetable and a number of recipes starring it. This week GreenMade is showcasing asparagus.
While the tempura was absolutely delicious and, in fact, lighter than most fried foods, the hot oil made my house smell like grease (even after leaving the windows open all night) which was enough for Michael and I to deem the dish a “never make again.” I would, however, definitely eat it again (if it was made some place else of course)!
Tempura was pretty fun to make! Even though I am promoting this recipe as an exclusively asparagus tempura, I tried a bunch of different vegetables. My favorite tempura vegetables were mushrooms and yams. I ate all the mushroom tempura before I could snap some photos, but the yam looked very pretty paired with the asparagus. Tempura is amazing with vegetables, but seafood is just as good! Just remember to cut down everything into manageable pieces.
Also I chose rice flour on a whim to try and use “authentic ingredients” but it also makes this recipe completely gluten-free! All-purpose flour or cake flour seem to work just as well though!
1 bunch of asparagus, woody ends removed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of rice flour
1 cup sparkling water, refrigerated
32 oz refined sesame oil*
1. Heat oil in a large sturdy pot over medium-high. The oil needs to get to 375 °F (I do not have a thermometer that gets that high, so I just made sure it sat on the burner for at least 15 minutes before I prepared the batter).
2. Cut asparagus in half on the bias. Set up an ice bath in a large bowl, and line a cooling rack with stack of paper towels.
3. Measure out rice flour in a bowl smaller than the ice bath bowl and add salt. Beat the egg then add the sparkling water, stir to combine.
4. Gently combine the egg/water mixture with the flour, lumps are okay. Stick this bowl in the ice bath and keep it in there for the duration of the frying. This should be done when you are ready fry.
5. Dip asparagus into batter with tongs and tap excess off before dropping into hot oil. Fry asparagus in batches of 3-7, for about 2 minutes until a light golden color. Remove pieces to drain on prepared paper towel.
6. Sprinkle with more salt (if desired) and serve immediately with ponzu sauce and lemon wedges.
*If you decide to use sesame oil, MAKE SURE it is unrefined! Refined sesame oil (which is easier to find) does not have a high smoke point. I chose to use sesame oil because it was a bit more authentic and because sesame oil has a nice amount of polyunsaturated fats, but vegetable, canola, or any other oil with a high smoke point would be perfectly acceptable.
2-3 scallions, sliced thinly
1/4 cup soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1. Combine all items in a bowl and stir. Add more mirin or lemon juice to taste.