Gluten-free & Vegan Tempura Asparagus and JING Matcha Tea...

So, I have this recipe for my lovely client JING Tea here which has been sitting on my laptop for a little while. It's a recipe for gluten-free & vegan tempura asparagus tips served with some wonderful Matcha Tea. Working on food pairings and flavours that complement each other is such an exciting field and one that I'm keen to explore more without going all crazy on exotic ingredients. I've written about this subject before and am therefore repeating myself, but I just don't want cooking to descend into a competition about who can track down the most unusual ingredients that nobody else has ever heard of.

Anyway, as you might have noticed, I usually write about more than just the food, not wanting to post "here's a recipe, that's it, I'm off, bye!". I don't normally have to look very far to find something to write, posting every few weeks or so generally means I have plenty to share and I'm itching to get things out there. This time feels a little different though. It's taken me a somewhat longer to post this and about three days to write it all because I simply waited it out and then couldn't find the right words. I waited to see what the subjects are that occupy (rightly or wrongly) a big part of my head at the moment and whether I actually have something to share. Whilst I always have work to think about, there are things lingering in the background that don't seem to go anywhere. I wondered though which parts I actually wanted to write down and share.

As the saying goes, I probably have more issues than Vogue. However, who wants to read about the thoughts that are endlessly going round my head? I'm not sure which parts I should or shouldn't write about online anymore for fear of sounding like a broken record. How do you bring something up that keeps going round your head forever without constantly repeating yourself? On the other hand, I know I'm not alone with those thoughts. When I look at some of my main social media accounts and the people I follow, there seems to be a common thread of insecurity, creative blocks, worries about shadowbanning (if you don't know what that is, do a quick google), and general anxiety going through many of them. So I then asked myself why would anybody want to read even more about how they already feel? But then I thought, well, maybe that's the whole point? The more of us share how we feel, the less isolated and alone with those feelings we might become.

The most creative and intelligent people seem to question themselves the most. I've lost count of the posts full of self-doubt I've seen from people who produce the most beautiful and authentic work. Where does it all come from? Maybe it's just me, but I'm beginning to think that the problem might lie with social media in itself. It seems to have taken so much of the creative fun away from blogging, sharing work and images, and getting to know new people. Things feel more forced now, not as natural, not quite right or honest. What can I say? I have no idea what the solution is, but I can tell you that I'm slowly pulling back from accounts that don't feel right anymore. The ones that don't inspire me. The ones that have become stale and seem to have lost their honest voice replacing it with "what the audience wants". All this is of course only based on my very own gut feeling, but, like most of us, that's all I have to go on. I am only talking for myself here and there's no doubt that somebody else might feel the same about my account which is fair enough. In a small way though, reducing my circle feels like the right thing to do. Reducing the clutter, rejecting whatever is just too much, saying 'no' to things that don't make me feel inspired or happy whether online or in real life. Maybe it's the human instinct of retreating into our own little world when things start to feel overwhelmingly uncertain and insecure. And maybe it's this instinct translated into the digital space that is kicking in right now... 

So, after all my ramblings, here finally the recipe for this most seasonal food and JING tea pairing. Tempura can occasionally be a little tricky to work with because if you're not quick enough the gluten will start to do its thing and make the batter too heavy. However, using gluten-free flour seems to remedy this problem quite nicely and of course makes the tempura suitable for anybody with a gluten intolerance. 

A wok is the best to do this, though a deep pan will also do. You will need a slotted spoon to get the asparagus out of the hot oil.

You will need:

  • 300g asparagus tips
  • 3tbsp aquafaba (the water from a tin of chickpeas, though I used it from haricot beans and it worked a treat)
  • 85g gluten-free flour
  • 15g cornflour
  • 150g (=ml) ice water
  • ca 1.5l vegetable oil

How it's done:

  • pour the oil into a wok so it’s ready to heat up once the batter is done
  • mix the gluten-free flour and cornflour together 
  • put the aquafaba into a bowl and whisk until it’s foamy
  • add the ice water and whisk some more
  • now sift the flour into it
  • stir the flour into the mix, but do not over-beat. A few clumps are perfectly fine
  • heat the oil to around 190C - I check it’s ready by just putting a dollop of batter into it
  • immerse the asparagus tips into the batter about 5-7 pieces at a time
  • drop the battered asparagus into the oil being careful not to crowd them - less is more in this case
  • fry for around 2 minutes or until lightly golden
  • take the asparagus out of the wok and put onto some kitchen paper to drain any excess oil

To make the dip:

You will need:

  • 3tbsp aquafaba
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1tsp dijon mustard
  • 180ml rapeseed oil (or other neutral tasting vegetable oil)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper

How it's done:

  • put all ingredients EXCEPT THE OIL in a blender
  • blend on a high speed until you have a creamy consistency
  • now very slowly add the oil in a very thin and steady stream
  • keep blending until all completely combined and you have a creamy consistency
  • serve with the asparagus
 

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