Asparagus bundles with bacon,
panko and chili mayonnaise

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This is my first entry in Beets N Squash YOU! a monthly themed recipe contest with a featured vegetable. This month it’s my favorite spring veg: asparagus.

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My usual preparation for asparagus is simple: grilled or stir-fried with garlic and salt. It’s one of those vegetables that needs very little attention to taste great.

But, with Easter coming up, I thought I’d get a little more ambitious. One of my fave restaurants here in The Hague is Mochi, which unfortunately bills itself as ‘Japanese-Latin fusion’. (Anyone who knows me knows I’m a total hater on the asian fusion front.) However. The food, which of course is trendy little dishes, is delish, so I’ll forgive them for that as well as their fusion sins. The best dish there, in my opinion, is an appetizer called asperges hirado. It involves all my favorite things: Asparagus. Bacon. Panko. Deep-frying. Mayonnaise. Need I say more?

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So I thought I would take a stab at it. What’s even better is that this is the easiest thing ever to make, and it looks great, so would make a pretty appetizer for guests. The key to its success is using pencil-thin asparagus and very thin-sliced bacon. If the asparagus is too thick, it won’t cook through. For the bacon, I used ‘ontbijtspek’ for this (basically a super thin breakfast bacon that is a little bit sweet). Thin pancetta, or even proscuitto would work here; just don’t use thick-sliced bacon because the deep-frying will go super quick.

At Mochi they serve this with wasabi mayonnaise. I made a milk mayonnaise with garlic, then mixed it with sweet chili sauce, two to one. A little sweet, a little spicy. Perfect for the salty crunchy asparagus bundles.

Asparagus bundles with bacon, panko and chili mayonnaise
serves 4-6 as an appetizer

Ingredients
200g thin asparagus
about 200g thinly sliced bacon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup of panko breadcrumbs (more or less)
300-400ml sunflower oil for frying

For the chili mayonnaise
1/4 cup mayonnaise (homemade or store-bought)
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

  1. The asparagus should be about 20cm long (8 inches or so, or less). This makes it easier to wrap in the bacon and to fry. Group the asparagus in bundles of five.
  2. Wrap each bundle with one or two slices of bacon, keeping the asparagus tips exposed. Basically there should be two layers of bacon to keep the bundle together.
  3. Place the egg in a shallow dish, and the panko in a separate shallow dish. Dip each bundle first in the egg, then the panko.
  4. Heat the oil in a saucepan to 325 degrees F (160 C). Fry the bundles in batches, turning them with tongs as they become golden. Each bundle shouldn’t take more than 2-3 minutes.
  5. Slice each bundle into two pieces. Combine the mayo and chili sauce. Serve immediately.