Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Asparagus Tempura with Soy, Tomato and Ginger dipping sauce


Asparagus is at it's best when in season so now is the time to buy it. It is probably best avoided out of season as it travels from far corners of the world and is often lagging a bit before it arrives here.

There is also white Asparagus from the continent which are force grown in sandbanks and dug out before their heads see the light of day. White Asparagus is more bitter than locally grown, so add a little sugar when cooking.

Wild Asparagus is perhaps the best but not as easy to find. It's apparently very common in Russia, where the cows eat it.

Tips

Select medium to small sized spears. The bottom of each stem should snap off cleanly. You can probably tell if they are not fresh, they look dry and tired.

The best way to prepare Asparagus is to cook it immediately after peeling and refresh it in iced water to retain it's colour.

Don't overcook.   It has a very distinctive flavour and should still be slightly crunchy.

For the tempura

25g plain flour
35g cornflour
Large pinch salt
250g asparagus, peeled and woody base removed
Chilled sparkling water

Gently mix the dry ingredients with enough water to make a thick but still runny batter, be careful not to over mix it , lumps are ok on this occasion.

Heat the oil over a medium heat until a cube of bread turns golden in under a minute.

Shake some flour over the asparagus and remove any excess.

Dip the asparagus into the batter to coat and fry in the oil for 1-2 minutes until golden,  drain on kitchen paper and serve with the dip.

For the dip

4 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
Small knob of  fresh ginger, finely grated

Mix all the ingredients together and serve in a small bowl.

Did you know

Asparagus is very low in calories with less than 4 kcal per spear. Asparagus is also very low in cholesterol and contains no fat or sodium so can help to maintain heart and blood pressure levels. It is also good for kidney function.

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