Long, slender, beautiful and luscious, spring asparagus is the supermodel of veggies. So why submerge it in a boozy batter and plunge it into hot oil? Maybe for the same reason those beauties date rock stars. Use a hyper-carbonated, uberfizzy pilsner for the batter; a bit of cornstarch mixed with flour helps crisp things up. And don't skip the cool, lemony aioli for dipping.
- 3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 cup cornstarch
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1.4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup pilsner
- 4 cups peanut oil
- 1 pound medium asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, mashed with a pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1. Combine the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, cayenne and black pepper in a wide, shallow baking dish. Whisk in the pilsner until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Set aside 30 minutes.
2. Make the aioli. Combine the mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, garlic and chives in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Heat the oven to 200 degrees F. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 365 degrees F. Coat 4 asparagus stalks at a time in batter, and gently lower into the oil. Cook, turning once or twice, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towerl-lined baking sheet; keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining asparagus, discarding any brown bits in the oil between batches. Serve the asparagus with the aioli for dipping.