I love these crispy asparagus spears as a greener alternative to french fries. They are great as an appetizer or served as a side with just about any entrée. Kids might not know the difference, and they’re a great way to stealthily get some vegetables into anyone’s diet.
For the sour cream and chive dip: Whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, chives, garlic, lemon zest and juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl. You can make this up to 2 days before as it gets better tasting with time.
For the asparagus tempura: Fill a 9- to 11-inch saucepan, large pot or large Dutch oven with about 4 inches of oil. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 to 360 degrees F. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.
Whisk the flour, cornstarch and baking soda together in a large bowl. Transfer half of the of the flour mixture to a second large bowl. Keep the club soda nearby, but don’t make the batter until you’re ready to fry.
Create an assembly line from left to right: the asparagus, one bowl of flour mixture for dredging and the second bowl of flour mixture that will become your tempura batter.
When you’re ready to fry, stir the club soda into the second bowl of flour.
To fry, use your fingers to dip 2 to 3 asparagus spears into the dredging flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the batter. Lay or slide the coated asparagus into the hot oil and deep-fry until golden, about 3 minutes, turning it in the oil for even cooking. Lift the cooked asparagus with tongs or a spider and let excess oil drip back into the pan before transferring to the prepared wire rack. Skim the surface of the oil occasionally to keep it clean and to fish out stray crispy tempura bits.
Bring the oil back to 350 to 360 degrees F between batches. Stir the batter to keep it from separating, then repeat with the remaining asparagus. Serve the fries immediately with the dip.