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Asparagus Tempura w/ Miso Aioli

Vegetarian

The ultimate Asian-inspired appetizer, this crunchy asparagus tempura is served up with a mouthwateringly tasty umami-rich miso aioli. Naturally vegetarian and gluten-free adaptable.

Asparagus tempura on a tray with bowl of miso aioli, soy sauce, and chop sticks.

Jessica Halverstadt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What’s to love about this recipe?

  • It’s so easy! Making vegetable tempura requires just a handful of pantry staples and is super simple to throw together. Asparagus tempura is especially simple as the only thing you have to do to prep the asparagus is to trim the rough ends off. The aioli is no hassle either. Altogether you can prep this appetizer in just 15-minutes. Winning!!
  • It works great as a side dish or appetizer! Tempura asparagus pairs well with so many dishes and they don’t have to be Asian. You can serve it up as a light starter or as an accompaniment to soup, a protein, or a rice/noodle dish. It would even be great for a snack!
  • The miso aioli! I have a couple of other aioli recipes up on the blog but this one is hands down my favorite. The use of miso paste, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil put an Asian spin on this Mediterranean favorite and take it to a whole ‘nother level. This rich sauce is bursting with umami flavor and garlic and is perfectly salty. I just know you’re going to love it as much as I do.
Asparagus tempura on a tray with bowl of miso aioli, soy sauce, and chop sticks.

Ingredients (+ notes & substitutions)

Ingredients for asparagus tempura with miso aioli (see recipe card).
  • Neutral oil: For frying – canola and vegetable are solid choices.
  • Garlic: You will need three cloves for the aioli.
  • Kosher salt: For the aioli and to season the tempura if desired.
  • Eggs: For the aioli, you will need two yolks from room-temperature eggs. If you’re like me and forget to set your eggs out in preparation, you can place them in a bowl of hot tap water for 10 minutes to warm them up. You will also need an egg for the tempura batter – this egg does not need to be warmed to room temperature.
  • Shiro (white) miso: Made from fermented soybeans, miso paste is salty and umami-rich. It comes in a variety of colors including white, yellow, and red. The longer it ferments the darker and richer it becomes. In addition to being richer, the darker varieties are saltier. Since aioli is naturally rich, I opted for white miso to keep it on the lighter side. You are certainly welcome to experiment with other varieties of miso, however. You can purchase miso paste at most grocery stores in the refrigerated section, frequently located near the tofu. It is also available to purchase through Amazon – I have included a link for my favorite miso paste below.
  • Rice wine vinegar: You can sub for white vinegar if you wish or need to do so.
  • Sesame oil: Although aioli is typically prepared with extra-virgin olive oil, I chose to use sesame oil instead as I felt it paired better with the Asian flavor profile. You could, however, stick to EVOO.
  • Ice cold water: To ensure the tempura is nice and crisp, ice cold water is essential. Cold water slows down the gluten development allowing the hot oil to get all up in there without the flour becoming oil logged. This results in the crispy texture we have come to expect when it comes to tempura.
  • All-purpose flour: Or cake flour!
  • Baking powder: For leavening.
  • Fresh asparagus: Make sure to trim the rough edges off first.

How do you make asparagus tempura with miso aioli? (+ tips)

  1. Heat oil in a deep-fat fryer or heavy-bottomed pot with oil at least one inch deep to 350 degrees.
  2. While the oil is heating, prepare the miso aioli. With a mortar and pestle crush the garlic together with the salt. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the egg yolks, rice wine vinegar, and miso paste and pulse to combine. Continue blending while slowly adding sesame oil one teaspoon at a time. Blend until all the oil has been incorporated and desired consistency is produced. Set aside. ***Adding the oil slowly is ESSENTIAL for the emulsification process. Simply put, emulsification is the process of combining (by force) two liquids that don’t want to mix (such as oil and water). If this step is not performed properly the sauce will not come together and you’ll have to begin again, so be patient!! It is not possible to add the oil too slowly, so take your time.
Miso aioli in food processor.

3. Once the oil is hot, whisk together the egg and water in a shallow dish large enough to contain the asparagus but not too large. **The batter should be prepared until right before you begin frying as you want it to be as cold as possible.

4. Add the flour and mix using chopsticks until just combined. It’s important not to overmix it – there will be some lumps and that is ok. **Do not use a whisk as you want to discourage the development of gluten to ensure the tempura turns out crispy.

5. Dredge the asparagus and in batches of 4-6 drop them in the oil. Immediately drip some additional batter atop the asparagus in the fryer using a spoon or fork – this adds some additional crispies. Fry for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.

Tempura batter with asparagus.

6. Transfer from the oil using tongs or a slotted spoon to a wire cooling rack. If you do not have a wire cooling rack you may transfer them to a paper towel-lined surface. The wire rack helps keep the tempura from getting soggy so this is definitely the route to go if you are able. If desired, sprinkle with kosher salt – keep in mind the aioli is a bit salty so don’t overdo it. Serve warm with miso aioli.

Asparagus tempura on sheet pan.

How to store

The miso aioli will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Although I don’t recommend it because it will become soggy quickly, the asparagus tempura will keep for a couple days sealed tight in the refrigerator.

Close-up of fried asparagus.
Tempura dipped in aioli.

What to serve with this dish:

  • Miso Egg Drop Soup w/ Kimchi: Umami rich, this miso egg drop soup with kimchi is brimming with flavor and is incredibly simple to prepare in less than 15 minutes. Naturally gluten-free w/ vegetarian option.
  • Curry Ramen: Take your instant ramen to the next level with this super easy and quick curry ramen. Super easy lunch or dinner. Highly customizable – your choice of veggies, protein, and garnishments.
  • Spicy Thai Carrot Soup: This quick and easy creamy carrot soup is bursting with flavor, including fragrant ginger, garlic, and Thai chile peppers. It’s a tad bit sweet with plenty of heat and is topped with a lime pickled red onion relish and cilantro. Naturally gluten-free, and vegan.

If you make this asparagus tempura with miso aioli I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥

Asparagus tempura on a tray with bowl of miso aioli, soy sauce, and chop sticks.

Asparagus Tempura w/ Miso Aioli

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

The ultimate Asian-inspired appetizer, this crunchy asparagus tempura is served up with a mouthwateringly tasty umami-rich miso aioli. Naturally vegetarian and gluten-free adaptable.

Ingredients

Asparagus Tempura

  • Neutral oil like vegetable or canola, for frying 
  • 1 cup ice cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed 

Miso Aioli

  • 3 cloves 
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature 
  • 1 tablespoon shiro (white) miso
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil 

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a deep-fat fryer or heavy-bottomed pot with oil at least one inch deep to 350 degrees.
  2. While the oil is heating, prepare the miso aioli. With a mortar and pestle crush the garlic together with the salt. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the egg yolks, rice wine vinegar, and miso paste and pulse to combine. Continue blending while slowly adding sesame oil one teaspoon at a time. Blend until all the oil has been incorporated and desired consistency is produced. Set aside. (see notes)
  3. Once the oil is hot, whisk together the egg and water in a shallow dish large enough to contain the asparagus but not too large. **The batter should be prepared until right before you begin frying.
  4. Add the flour and mix using chopsticks until just combined. It's important not to overmix it - there will be some chunks and that is ok. **Do not use a whisk.
  5. Dredge the asparagus and in batches of 4-6 drop them gently into the oil. Immediately drip some additional batter atop the asparagus in the fryer using a spoon or fork. Fry for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Transfer from the oil using tongs or a slotted spoon a wire cooling rack or if you don't have one, to a paper towel-lined surface. If desired, sprinkle with kosher salt - keep in mind the aioli is a bit salty so don't overdo it. Serve warm with miso aioli.

Storage: The miso aioli will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Although I don't recommend it because it will become soggy quickly, the asparagus tempura will keep for a couple of days sealed tight in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Adding the oil slowly is ESSENTIAL for the emulsification process. Simply put, emulsification is the process of combining (by force) two liquids that don’t want to mix (such as oil and water). If this step is not performed properly the sauce will not come together and you’ll have to begin again, so be patient!! It is not possible to add the oil too slowly, so take your time.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 123mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 6g

The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc

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