I am not much of salesman. And I know that asking you not only to fry during the height of summer but also to fry garlic and then dip it in more garlic might be a long shot, but here goes. First, unlike ramps, tomatoes, berries — all of the prized summer jewels — scapes are among the most affordable items found at farmers markets. Second, unlike typical tempura methods, which call for a coating of flour, here the flour, which refuses to cling to scapes, is omitted. Once you get going, the process moves along quickly. The key is being patient with the frying. Third, these are completely delicious. Sold?
neutral oil such as grapeseed, canola, or vegetable
In This Recipe
Tempura Garlic Scapes
Prepare scapes: cut off the stringy tip from the flower end, and trim off the very bottom of the stem end. Cut each scape in half or into thirds, so that each piece measures about 4- to 6-inches in length.
Fill a heavy pot with tall sides (something with a wide opening is ideal) with canola oil to a depth of at least one inch. Use a deep fry thermometer to gauge the temperature -- it should be steady at 360° F. Maintaining a consistent temperature is important.
While the oil is heating, line a sheet pan with paper towels and set aside. Place two egg yolks in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix the yolks with two cups of cold water. Add one-quarter cup of ice cubes.
Add two cups of flour. Hold four chopsticks with their tips pointed down and stab at the flour to combine it with the liquid until a loose, lumpy batter forms, about thirty seconds. Do not whisk, and do not use a fork -- the batter should be barely mixed with pockets of dry flour visible. The liquid will be the consistency of heavy cream.
Dip a scape into the batter, then gently lower into the oil. Repeat until there are 5 or 6 scapes in the oil. It is important not to overcrowd the pan. Note: Do not rush through the frying process by crowding the pan -- the scapes won’t cook properly.
Cook until the batter turns golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes total. Remove the scapes from the oil using a spider or slotted spoon, and place them on the paper towel-lined tray to drain. Season with a pinch of salt immediately, then repeat the dipping and frying with the remaining scapes. Serve immediately with the aioli.
Garlic Scape Aioli
In a food processor, pulse the garlic scapes with a pinch of salt until finely minced, scraping down the sides of processor as necessary. Add the capers, egg yolk, and juice of half a lemon and process until combined.
With the motor running, pour the oil through the food pusher insert so that it enters the processor through the teensy hole at the bottom — this allows the oil to enter very slowly and will ensure that the aioli emulsifies.
After all of the oil has been incorporated, stop the motor and taste. Add more salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes if necessary. Add more lemon or, if the aioli is needing more bite, add the vinegar. Process again, and continue adjusting as needed until it tastes right. Store in fridge until ready to serve.