Crispy Crumbed Asparagus with Herby Mayonnaise

This time of year is cookbook Nirvana. It’s spring, everyone’s starting to think about Christmas gift-giving, and we’re all slowly emerging from the winter shell that’s cocooned us for the past six months.

The Edible Garden, by Paul West, host of River Cottage Australia, is one of those books that make you remember how cool it is to grow your own stuff. My friend Bri di Mattina runs the Instagram site I Ate My Garden, and has the sort of edible garden I can only dream of. Until I saw it, I always imagined she had unicorns and fairies overseeing the beauty of her macadamia tree, her seemingly unlimited sage plants (and I have to share my portion with the guinea pigs!) – and now I know what it looks like, I’m even more in love with the idea that if you grow it, it tastes better.

While I can’t grow everything at home (give me your green fingers, Bri!), I can definitely make the most of seasonal produce – and of course, right now, that’s asparagus. This recipe for Crispy Crumed Asparagus for Herby Mayonnaise is just delish, and the gentle crumb helps even the most reluctant of asparagus-eaters over the line. Try it!

Crispy crumbed asparagus with herby mayonnaise

Ready in 20 minutes. Serves 2 as a starter.

This one’s a real favourite for me. The asparagus is buttery
and tender on the inside with a satisfying crunch on the outside.
The herby mayonnaise is a great way to use some fresh herbs
from your garden – I prefer a bit of everything but if you only
have one type of herb, that’s fine too!

Ingredients

  • light olive oil, ghee or tallow, for deep-frying
  • 75 g (½ cup) plain flour
  • salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 60 g (1 cup) panko breadcrumbs
  • 100 g (1 cup) finely grated parmesan
  • 1 bunch of asparagus spears, woody ends snapped off
  • brassica flowers or other edible flowers, to serve (optional)

HERBY MAYONNAISE

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 100 ml light olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped
  • flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
  • 2 tablepoons finely chopped chives

Method

To make the mayo, combine the egg yolk, mustard, vinegar and salt in a mixing bowl. Pour a steady trickle of olive oil into the bowl while mixing constantly with a whisk. Once all the oil has been added and the mayo has thickened, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary, then fold in the herbs. Set aside.

Fill a large saucepan with your preferred deep-frying fat to a depth of at least 5 cm, then heat over high heat to 180°C. If you don’t have a thermometer, place the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil – it should bubble constantly but not vigorously.

To prepare your crumbing station you’ll need three shallow bowls. Tip the flour into the first bowl and season it with a pinch of salt; crack the eggs into the second and lightly beat them; and combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan in the third bowl. Roll the asparagus spears in the flour, then dip them in the egg (shaking off any excess) and finally roll them in the parmesan breadcrumbs.

Add the spears to the hot oil in batches, making sure you don’t overcrowd the pan, and cook for 1–2 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are nicely golden. Remove the spears with tongs and drain them on paper towels until just cool enough to handle.

Spread the herby mayo on a serving plate, arrange the asparagus on top and scatter over some edible flowers, if you like.

Recipe extracted from The Edible Garden, Cookbook & Growing Guide by Paul West, Macmillan Publishers, RRP $39.99.