Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fried Asparagus with Miso Dressing

Found on Food 52, I made an adaptation of their adaptation of Nobu Matsuhisa's recipe in his cookbook "Nobu's Vegetarian Cookbook". I used onions instead of leeks and my sauce was thicker and reminiscent (in its consistency) of  Asparagus with Sauce Gribiche. Sauce Gribiche is a classic French sauce - a mayonnaise-based dressing with chopped boiled egg, herbs, and cornichons. I also used only about a 1" depth of oil for frying in a 10" skillet. My cooking compatriot (Lynn) wasn't as delighted with overall dish as I was, she loved the dressing and would also use it on a salad (I agree).

In Chef Matshuhisa's recipe, the leeks are deep-fried until browned, and then the asparagus is fried for a minute or two (depending on its thickness). While the asparagus tasted great, and except for the fact that the asparagus tips get crispy in such a delightful, delicious way, I will - while I will definitely make the other elements as indicated - likely roast the asparagus instead of frying it the next time. I fear neither the technique of frying nor the oil, but I hate dealing with a bunch of oil post-fry. I know you can re-use it but I use oil infrequently in that quantity. Yeah, a little lazy that way, but practical. If you do fry them, you will want to snap off all of the fried tips, dip them in a little dressing and eat them yourself. Just sayin'...


Adapted from Food52 and Nobu Matsuhisa (from "Nobu's Vegetarian Cookbook")
Serves 2-4 as a starter or a side

  • 1/4 cup white miso (or red grain miso - akatsubu miso)
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, like grapeseed (I used olive oil - not exactly neutral, but you work with what you have, right?)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • A little raw agave nectar (optional - I didn't use it)
  • 1 small onion, cut in half along the pole and sliced thin - about 1/4 inch wide
  • Oil for frying (grapeseed, peanut or even olive oil), enough for 1" depth in a pot wide enough to hold the asparagus
  • 9-12 large spears asparagus washed and with the woody part of the bottom stem trimmed
Preparation - Miso Dressing
  • Add the miso, grated garlic, soy sauce and rice vinegar to a bowl. Add a little of the neutral oil and, using a whisk, whisk vigorously. Continue adding the oil in small increments and whisking after each addition until the sauce is emulsified, until you have added all of the oil Alternate: add all of the dressing ingredients listed above, except the neutral oil to a the cup attachment of a stick blender. Add the oil in small increments and blend with the stick blender after each addition until you have added all of the oil. Taste. Add a dash of the raw agave nectar if you wish. Set aside. This can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour before service.

Preparation - Fried Onions and Fried Asparagus
  • Heat the oil for frying to about 300F. Deep fry the prepared onions until they begin to brown. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels. Set aside.
  • Increase the heat to 320F. Deep fry the prepared asparagus spears in the oil for up to 2 minutes. Note: we had pretty thin spears so I fried a 'sacrificial' spear to determine how long we should cook the rest. It came out to a little over a minute. Do not crowd the pan. When done, remove the spears to a rack to drain.
Arrange the fried asparagus spears on a plate or platter spoon a line of the sauce over the lower half of the spears and one over the upper half of the spears. Pile the browned onions between the two lines of sauce.

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