Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Battered Asparagus and Lemon Mayonnaise

Aoife, Cambridge 

There is a beautiful asparagus steamer I like to fondle during my regular pilgrimages to John Lewis. Part of me would love to have the type of life where I could a) justify spending £40 on such a niche piece of kitchen equipment and b) have space to store the thing. Most of me (and all of The Husband) thinks it is utter nonsense. Until such time as I own specialist asparagus cooking equipment I'm going to have to rely on less specific cooking tools. I had never even thought about battering and deep frying the stuff until our recent trip to California. 

On our second night in San Francisco, we enjoyed a great dinner at Farmer Brown. The cocktails were amazing: a lemon, thyme and cucumber concoction helped clear the jet lag fuzz. The best bit though was this starter of beer battered asparagus and lemon mayonnaise. 

I wanted to create something similar at home, while the Cambridgeshire asparagus was still available. In the end I settled for a lighter batter and served these (photo up top) as part of a relaxed brunch with friends. The asparagus came out perfectly cooked: tender with a little bite. The batter was light, crispy and not too stodgy. You could make your own mayonnaise or aioli but with limited time jazzing up standard mayonnaise with some lemon was easy and the perfect enlivening accompaniment. I usually can't be bothered with deep-frying but I would definitely make these again.


large bunch of asparagus
approx 1L vegetable oil (I use sunflower)

125g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
230 mL sparkling water
freshly ground black pepper
zest of 1/2 lemon

lemon mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix all ingredients for the lemon mayonnaise together and set to one side. Heat the oil to 190°C in a heavy bottom pan. Whisk all of the batter ingredients together to obtain a thin batter. Submerge asparagus spears in the batter to coat them. Work in small batches and transfer to oil and fry, stirring gently to keep the asparagus from sticking together, until the batter is golden-brown (about 2-3 minutes). Transfer as fried with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate.

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