Grass stays green even in hot oil

Kate Lawson
The Detroit News

The Michigan asparagus season is not yet in full swing and already it seems I’m taking this lovely vegetable for granted. Because it’s so wonderful and wonderfully easy to prepare, we must have it at least twice a week and mostly I prepare it the same way: oven roasted, drizzled with sesame oil or olive oil and a squirt of lemon and a sprinkle of shaved Parmesan.

And even though I cook it perfectly: tooth tender and still slightly crisp to accompany everything from steak to chicken and fish, there are days when I long for a twist to this lovely grassy green.

At a dinner last week with friends, the restaurant was featuring battered and fried asparagus, which was really great, but honestly, I could have done without the batter, skipped the extra calories and been equally impressed.

Then I found this recipe from one of my favorite chefs, Nobu Matsuhisa (he of the famed Nobu restaurants where I’ve had the pleasure to dine) in a great new book, “Food 52 Genius Recipes,” by Kristen Miglore (Ten Speed Press, $35). Fried asparagus turns a vivid green after just a few minutes in the oil, the tips frizzle and the stalks get nice and crispy. Then, when served in a pool of miso dressing and topped with fried leek, they become a vegetable masterpiece.

Thanks to this recipe, I’ll never take the super stalk for granted again.

Fried Asparagus with Miso Dressing

From “Food 52 Genius Recipes” by Kristen Miglore

Miso Dressing

3 ounces white miso or red grain miso (akatsubu miso)

A dab of garlic paste, or 1 small clove garlic, grated

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) rice vinegar

A little sugar syrup, made with equal parts water and sugar (optional)

3 inches white part of 1 leek

Oil, for deep-frying (grapeseed, peanut, or even olive oil)

9 (or more) large spears green asparagus, about 9 ounces

To make the dressing: Combine the miso with the garlic, soy sauce, grapeseed oil, and vinegar. Check the taste and add the sugar syrup, if desired.

For the asparagus: Slash the leek lengthwise to open and discard the inner core. Wash off the sand between the layers under running cold water. Cut into thin shreds. Pat dry well.

Pour 2 inches of oil into a pot wide enough to hold the asparagus. Heat the oil for deep-frying to about 300 degrees. Deep-fry the leek until it begins to brown. Scoop the fried leek out with a slotted spoon or spider and drain on a wire rack in warm spot in the kitchen for up to 1 to 2 hours.

Reheat the oil up to 320 degrees to 340 degrees. Trim off the hard bottom of each asparagus and deep-fry in the oil for 1 to 2 minutes, until the asparagus is bright green and just tender.

To serve, cut each length in half crosswise or leave them whole. Spoon the miso dressing on a plate and stack the asparagus on it. Top with the fried leek. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Per serving: 367 calories; 34 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 83 percent calories from fat); 10 g carbohydrates; 3 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 874 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber.