1 bunch medium asparagus, ends trimmed
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, separated
3/4 cup beer, lager or pale ale
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups peanut oil
Garlic Aioli, recipe follows
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 lemon, zested
4 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In shallow pan, soak asparagus in buttermilk 12 to 24 hours. Remove from buttermilk, but do not rinse.
In a large bowl, combine well the egg yolks, beer, flour, cornmeal, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. In large deep sided pot, heat oil to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, in a large clean bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter mixture. Dip spears, 1 at a time into batter, then carefully lay in oil. Do not overcrowd pan. Fry in batches, if necessary. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, turning the spears with tongs to ensure even cooking. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with sea salt, to taste. Serve immediately with Aioli.
In a food processor, combine all ingredients well. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
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