When you dip asparagus in hot oil, you won't recognize it. After an oily plunge, its skin ripples and shines like the skin of a striped bass. The tips frizzle and the stalks turn vivid green and tender in just a minute or two under the oil. Note: This will make more dressing than you need, so feel free to increase the quantity of asparagus, or save the dressing for other uses. The dressing and leeks can be made ahead, but the asparagus should be served immediately after frying. Recipe adapted from Nobu's Vegetarian Cookbook by Nobu Matsuhisa (PIE Books, 2012) —Genius Recipes
2-4 as a starter or side
(90 g) white miso or red grain miso (akatsubu miso)
A dab of garlic paste (or one small garlic clove, grated)
(100 ml) grapeseed oil
plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) rice vinegar
A little sugar syrup (optional)
3 inches (about 8 cm) white part of leek
Oil for deep-frying (grapeseed, peanut or even olive oil -- just enough for 2 inches depth in a pot wide enough to hold the asparagus)
(or more) large spears green asparagus, about 9 oz. (270 g)
Make the Miso Dressing: Combine the miso with garlic, soy sauce, grapeseed oil, and vinegar. Check the taste and add the sugar syrup to taste, if desired.
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.
Heat the oil for deep-frying to about 300°F (150°C). Deep-fry in low-temperature oil, about 300°F (150°C), until it begins to brown. Drain on a wire rack in warm spot in the kitchen for up to 1 to 2 hours.
Bring oil up to 320°F (160°C) to 340°F (170°C). Trim hard bottom off each asparagus and deep-fry in the oil for 1 to 2 minutes. For serving, you can 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.