Nobu's Fried Asparagus with Miso Dressing

June  5, 2012
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 2-4 as a starter or side
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 3 ounces (90 g) white miso or red grain miso (akatsubu miso)
  • A dab of garlic paste (or one small garlic clove, grated)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup (100 ml) grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup 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)
  • 9 (or more) large spears green asparagus, about 9 oz. (270 g)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Spoon the Miso Dressing on a plate and stack the asparagus on it. Top with the fried leek. Serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • sevenfaces
  • deannanana
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
  • newkiwi
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

13 Reviews

newkiwi March 30, 2015
sevenfaces, what is Japanese mayo?
JohnL October 7, 2015
Japanese mayonnaise, the brand is Kewpie. It is expensive and according to the label, doesn't have much of a shelf life after opening. It is intense, possibly from msg (I'm not sure). I have had it served to me on bahni mi sandwiches (applied lightly) and I liked it. Someone told me to try making potato salad with it and I would never make it any other way--I tried it, but thought it was totally inedible. Someone here who's into Kewpie should write an article about it and how to best use it. People who like it, REALLY like it.
sevenfaces October 3, 2014
The only way I want to eat asparagus! I've also made this with garlic scapes, equally delicious. You can mix the leftover dressing with japanese mayo and then toss it through a mix of coleslaw veg. A great recipe!
brittany July 10, 2014
How long should the dressing keep? Like other posters here, I have lots of leftover dressing.
za'atar March 20, 2014
Delicious recipe, but makes way too much dressing. I guess I'll just have to make more asparagus for dinner tomorrow!
Walter L. March 22, 2014
Agreed regarding the volume - should probably halve it for next time. I went with baked asparagus (10 min @ 400 deg F) vs deep frying and the asparagus came out perfect - tender just a little crispiness; and I avoided having to figure out what to do with leftover oil from the deep frying :)
deannanana May 15, 2013
Why do you have to discard the inside of a leek? I've never done that, and never seen a reason to, so i'd love to know the rationale here.
Kristen M. May 15, 2013
Great question -- "save for another use" would probably be a better way to say it! The reason here is that if you slice crosswise, as pictured, the innermost core cross-sections will be tiny bits that will burn more quickly when frying.
deannanana May 15, 2013
That totally makes sense, and i definitely would not have thought of that until AFTER i looked at a pan full of burned bits. Thanks!
chop C. January 26, 2013
Excellent dish. We found ourselves dragging our steaks through the miso dressing as well.
Srlama June 26, 2012
Prepared asparagus from the Union Sq Farmers Market in Somerville using this recipe. As I had much leftover dressing, it went on everything from field greens with roasted beets, to a dip for raw veggies. It's pretty stellar - once you get the ummami groove goin' on from the miso, there's no coming back.
JohnL October 7, 2015
My first experience cooking with miso was from a recipe in Rocco's award winning cookbook a few years ago I made his miso chicken dish and thought it was a great big zero. That and lots of disgusting miso soup I had over the years, I decided I didn't like the stuff. But recently I tried miso again from an email recipe from Sam Sifton (New York Times) on bone-in chicken thighs and found it to be surprisingly good. And easy: just mix 1/2 cup white miso paste with 1/4 cup soft unsalted butter, 2 TB honey, 1 TB rice vinegar (unseasoned), and some black pepper. Smear all over 8 thighs and roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes, turning a few times, though I didn't find turning necessary, as I just made 2 thighs to test the recipe and cooked them in a small shallow porcelain baking dish. Rich, and took well to the cilantro I garnished it with. I will be making that dish again. So Srlama, like you, I think I'm going to be getting into miso. So much tastier than I ever thought possible, totally different from all the nasty miso soup I've had in Japanese restaurants over the years.
Marcia H. June 20, 2012
This is a scrumptious way to serve asparagus. Although it's cooked for a very short time in the hot oil and comes out of the oil feeling almost uncooked, it is tender and has a much more pleasing texture than steamed asparagus. The sauce adds a sublime saltiness and oiliness. And the leeks give the dish a touch of crunch.