Saturday, 7 May 2011
Two very cute Japanese girls rocked up here at 8.30 this morning, dressed in that really cool way that only very cute Japanese girls can carry off successfully. Kind of modern-geisha-vintage-granny: pale apricot silk, pleated 1920s dress; scalloped-edge, pastel cardi; tatty fabric flower brooch; white opaque tights; brogues that have been treated with tennis-shoe whitener; plaits. I wont be attempting it. Japanese Madame Figaro Magazine were doing a fashion story here today. The rest of the crew showed up at about 9 and after I'd laid out a nice breakfast for them all and made coffee, Brian, Ed, the whippets and I headed off to the garden centre at Ally Pally.
Coincidently, there is the best Japanese supermarket just near Alexandra Palace. I've been planning to make asparagus tempura for a week or two; there's an abundance of the stuff at the moment and lots of shops have English asparagus (rather than the air-frieghted variety from Chile) on special offer. I'd run out of the tempura batter mix so picked up a couple of packs along with a basket full of other random things chosen solely because of their pretty packaging. They also make fantastic, fresh sushi.
So.... chop half an inch of the woody stalk off the end of each asparagus and give the stems a wash. Measure approx 6 heaped tablespoons of the tempura batter mix into a bowl. Dribble in some icy water. Mix with chop sticks. Add water until it's about the consistency of thickish custard. Don't worry if it has a few lumps.
Put about 8 asparagus stalks into the batter mix and roll them around. Heat the oil.
Rapeseed oil is the best for frying tempura. I don't own a deep fat fryer - they frighten me - so I just use a biggish frying pan, that way I can see what's going on and feel more in control. When the oil is hot (drip a tiny blob of the batter mix in and if it sizzles it's ready), one by one add the batter-coated asparagus. I use chop sticks throughout for practical reasons - my hands don't get too close to the hot oil and it gets me in a Japanese frame of mind - a lot easier than changing into the Suzie Wong-style outfit Brian brought back from Tokyo. LOL, he's never been to Japan (as far as I know).
Where were we.....they cook quickly; a minute or two and they're done.
As they begin to turn golden, lift them out (with chopsticks or a slotted spoon) and put them to drain on kitchen paper while you fry the next batch.
The boys like them dipped in garlic mayonaise. I prefer the traditional soy sauce, wasabi and a squeeze of lemon juice.