British asparagus season is short and sweet, so try Philippa Davis' asparagus tempura with feta, mint and chilli dip with your first stems

Embrace the best of the British seasonal produce with Philippa Davis’ asparagus tempura with feta, mint and chilli dip. The British asparagus season only lasts about six weeks, so use fresh spears for this recipe while you can.

Asparagus is one of The Field’s favourite ingredients, best eaten as finger food with hollandaise sauce. For something a little different, our asparagus and feta pastries are perfect for picnics.

ASPARAGUS TEMPURA WITH FETA, MINT AND CHILLI DIP

Use fresh, thin spears of asparagus and follow the tips below for a perfect light and crispy batter.

Serves 4

Feta, mint and chilli dip

  • 200g feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • ½ green chilli, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp double cream
  • ½ tbsp mint, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Tempura
Make the batter just before you are about to use it

  • 100g cold plain flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cold egg white
  • 200ml very cold cider or light beer
  • 200g fine asparagus
  • Oil for frying

Tips for perfect batter:

Chill all your ingredients and utensils for making the batter. The cold helps inhibit gluten development in the flour. The less gluten the lighter and crispier the batter.

Use a chopstick to mix the batter as this helps keep gluten development to a minimum.

Don’t fry too many at once or the temperature of the oil drops and the batter absorbs the fat.

For the feta, mint and chilli dip, in a blender blitz all the dip ingredients with a little seasoning until smooth then transfer into a ramekin and cover. It will last for a couple of days in the fridge but bring it out an hour before serving.

For the asparagus tempura, in a chilled bowl sieve in the plain flour, cornflour and baking powder.

Mix the egg white and cider in a jug then slowly pour into the flour, using a chopstick to mix. Don’t over stir and don’t worry if there are a few lumps.

Heat your frying oil to 190°C/375°F.

A few at a time, dip the asparagus in the batter and lightly shake.

Carefully lower each spear into the oil and fry until golden.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Sprinkle with salt and serve straight away with the dip.