Here’s how to make asparagus tempura that’s shatteringly crisp and uber light thanks to its awesome beer batter coating. We’re talking out-of-this-world deliciousness.
Asparagus tempura? Why not! “You can pretty much beer batter anything,” says author and beer lover Jacquelyn Dodd. “Vegetables, meat, car keys.” Well, let’s start with vegetables. Asparagus to be specific. You’re going to be wowed at how easy it is to make this out-of-this-world beer-battered asparagus that’s shatteringly crisp on the outside and tender but not mushy inside. The only trick is to select spears that are on the thickish side so that they turn tender but not mushy during frying. We’re thinking of trying this batter on slender scallions and even herbs next. As for car keys, you’re on your own.–Renee Schettler
WHY IS MY TEMPURA SOGGY?
We know how exciting it is when there’s tempura on the way…but you’ll need to take your time if you want the crispest veg possible. Overcrowding the pan is a big mistake. Those battered spears need room and, more importantly, when you just dump ’em all in there, the temperature of the oil drops dramatically. And there’s the problem—when they oil isn’t hot enough, you’re gonna end up with limp, soggy, oily tempura. So take your time and fry in small batches.
- Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 1 cup beer
- 3 to 6 cups mild vegetable oil for frying
- 1 pound thick asparagus ends trimmed
- In a large, wide saucepan or a wok over medium-high heat, add about 4 inches oil. Using a deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer, bring the oil to 350°F (177°C), adjusting the heat to maintain that temperature. Place a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet.
- In a large, shallow bowl or a small roasting pan, stir together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and beer until well combined. It will be quite thick and may take up to 1 minute of stirring for it everything to be completely incorporated.
- Dip the asparagus in the batter, a few at a time, until well coated, letting the batter drain off for a few seconds before adding to the hot oil.
- Deep-fry the asparagus in batches, being certain not to crowd the oil, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Using tongs or a slotted spoon, move the asparagus to the wire rack to drain. Serve hot.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
What a fun and tasty recipe for asparagus tempura! We adored this simple yet unique recipe—it worked perfectly with thick asparagus spears and calls for a wonderful beer batter that I think can be used for any veggies or even proteins.
You probably always have the batter ingredients handy. I used a local beer popular in Atlanta called Sweetwater 420, and it gave a nice carbonation and flavor to the batter. I was afraid at first that the basic batter wasn't going to be very flavorful, but I was mistaken. The results were perfectly cooked asparagus spears coated in a thick, lightly browned coating that was out-of-this-world delicious.
I used a straight-sided 9-inch sauté pan to heat the oil and fry the spears. I couldn't help myself, but I lightly salted the cooked, hot spears with kosher salt when they came out of the oil and were draining on the rack. I thought it added a nice finishing flavor. I would love to try it next with thinly sliced carrots, eggplant, and maybe some jumbo shrimp or cubes of firm fish.
This exquisite rustic bar food is so simple to make yet at the same time much better than ordinary deep-fried vegetable matter. Maybe it was the asparagus or maybe—probably—it was the tempura batter. The whole shebang took no more than 15 or 20 minutes hands-on time. I used a light beer, as I find it nearly criminal to use a good, drinkable beer in a deep-fry batter. I used about 3 cups vegetable oil in my trusty 10 1/2-inch cast-iron skillet. What a great easy recipe. A certain winner! This batter works so well that I'm going to try using it for fried pickles at some point. Maybe a pinch of cayenne next time?
Originally published April 30, 2016