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Asparagus deep-fried in cider batter with spring herbs

Serves 4

Deep-frying asparagus in a light crisp batter makes a delicious snack, starter or canapé with a glass of fizz. You can vary the sauces you serve this with and perhaps give the dish an Asian twist and serve the Vietnamese fish sauce Nuoc cham or wasabi mayonnaise. You can use the packet tempura batter for this or, as I'm suggesting here, a beer or cider batter. I suggest using a cider such as Julian Temperley's Burrow Hill bottle-fermented cider or Gaymer's single variety.

300-400g asparagus, with stems removed
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

For the batter

100g self-raising flour
30g corn flour
Sparkling cider to mix
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the herb sauce

2tbsp chopped spring herbs such as chervil, tarragon, parsley and chives
2-3tbsp good quality or homemade mayonnaise

First, make the batter: mix the self-raising flour and cornflour together, season and add enough cider to make a thickish batter. Make the herb sauce by mixing the herbs with the mayonnaise and season to taste.

Pre-heat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Dip the asparagus in the batter a few pieces at a time, drop into the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning with a slotted spoon until lightly golden, then remove and drain on some kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Serve with the herb mayonnaise on the plate or in little dishes.