Fried Asparagus

Something Interesting

Fried Asparagus

In general, I didn’t like living in California. On the other hand, in general it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I did end up living in the right place: Sacramento. It’s a pleasant little city conveniently located in the center of California. San Francisco was a day-trip away as were the mountains. Napa and Sonoma were convenient. And to my great surprise I liked the Central Valley.

California’s Central Valley is one of the most fertile areas in the world. The soil is essentially what’s mountain folk call bottom land — silt laid down by runoff from the mountains over hundreds of thousands of years. And the water that deposited the silt is still there creating a plain with thousands of streams and ponds and marshes. Fertile soil, plenty of water, and nearly endless sun make the area a farmer’s dream, and all summer long you see trucks, piled high with produce, filling the highways.

Not too far south of Sacramento

Asparagus Festival

is Stockton, a small agricultural town — charming in an odd 20th century California way — and every spring Stockton hosts an asparagus festival. In fact, it was last weekend this year. As far as agricultural festivals go it’s pretty typical. I like going to such things but the truth is if you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all whether it’s asparagus in California, tomatoes in Tennessee, or apples in Michigan. The only real difference is in what’s featured and whether or not they do something interesting with it. Stockton does.

Stockton Fried Asparagus

1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 egg whites
2/3 cup cold flat beer
3 pounds (2 cups) raw, whole asparagus, cleaned and cut above white end

Mix all ingredients except asparagus in a bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Dip asparagus spears individually in the batter and deep fry them in at least 2 inches of peanut oil for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Dust generously with grated Parmesan cheese.

At the festival they fry huge asparagus spears, 5/8 – 3/4 inches in diameter at the base. These fat spears are supposed to be the best — and in fact I tend to agree they’re better than thinner spears — but they’re too damned fat to cook through when frying. But thin spears won’t work either. I recommend spears about 1/2 inch in diameter. I also recommend frying lots. Three pounds is about right for two asparagus lovers.

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16 Responses to “Fried Asparagus”

  1. Tana Says:

    FYI, the fatter asparagus is female, and the thinner is male. I only buy the fat ones: not because I am a feminist. I am not. I just like the recipe I learned from the chef at Manresa: peel the stalks below the head, blanch, shock in ice water. Finish cooking in <>beurre noisette<> and top with grated pecorino and lemon. Fabulous. I’m doing that for dinner tonight. Just me and “the girls.” Heh.

  2. cookiecrumb Says:

    Tana: WTF? That’s way too difficult. 😀 Beurre noisette? Heh.However, I did not know about male/female. Cool.(Wait. What are those mid-diameter spargs I have in the fridge?)

  3. Alanna Kellogg Says:

    Three pounds for TWO? That must be some asparagus!!

  4. Kevin Says:

    Tana,I’ve never seen any need to peel asparagus. It seems a bit effete to me.CC,You’re the one who lives near San Francisco.Alanna,By the time you remove the tough bottom stems you’re down to 2 pounds — and the stuff is seriously addictive.

  5. amanda Says:

    That is so unusual! unusually delightful…i have never seen anyone deep fry asperagus.. i imagine it is QUITE tasty. Great Blog!

  6. Kevin Says:

    Amanda,Thanks. I hope you’ll aspire to contribute something asparagussy.And what a strange blog you have. I like it!

  7. s'kat Says:

    I love asparagus, and I love fried things. Ergo, no problem whatsoever in delving through that much asparagus.BTW, I used to live in Roseville, outside of Sacramento. Nice area, at least it was when you were little like me. My grandparents are still there, and I’m hoping to visit soon.

  8. Kevin Says:

    S’kat,All those little Central Valley towns have a certain appeal.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I’m from Stockton and can say one of the only reasons to go to the festival is for the deep fried asparagus…and maybe the asparagus pasta.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    FYI, this is the same recipe from food network. Charles Maes, owner of Canby….Or.

  11. Kevin Says:

    It’s the Asparagus Festival’s official recipe.

  12. Melissa Says:

    Help! Has anyone actually made this recipe? Do you really put a half CUP of cornstarch? I’d love to make this for a dinner party tomorrow and I’m hoping this recipe is worth it. Have you had the fried asparagus at the Palm? That’s the taste I’m looking for. Any feedback would be appreciated!Thanks! Melissa

  13. Kevin Says:

    Melissa,Yup. The original Stockton Fried Asparagus recipe really does call 1/2 cup of cornstarch. And it is really good.

  14. Melissa Says:

    Okay, I’m gonna try it as written. Although I’m so tempted to tinker with the recipe! Wish me luck,Melissa

  15. Li'l Aly Says:

    Just made them, mid-size cooking perfectly! I did mine for about 4 minutes @ 375. Change celery salt to onion salt, oh and no beer just water. YUMMMMMY!! Thanks for the recipe! I can see MANY variants to the recipe you could even make a Cajun style batter, with crawdads oh the possibilties!!

  16. Kevin Says:

    Lil’Aly,
    It’ll be at least another month until I can get fresh local asparagus, but I’m sure looking forward to the season.

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