Crunchy, Cheesy Asparagus Sticks

Crunchy and Cheesy Asparagus Sticks (via abeautifulmess.com) Oh yes. Today we're making some total comfort food for the season! This is a melty, cheesy, crunchy treat featuring one of my favorite vegetables from this season: asparagus. Yum! 

One thing you might be wondering is what the heck that wasabi is doing in the photo. What does wasabi have to do with cheesy asparagus? Good question. 

Crunchy and Cheesy Asparagus Sticks (via abeautifulmess.com)This appetizer idea is based on a favorite appetizer at a sushi restaurant in my hometown. To be honest, I'm not sure what fried mozzarella and asparagus have to do with sushi, but it's SO good! So I had to try and figure out how to make my own homemade version. These do involve a little bit of prep work, but you can do everything ahead of time and then just quickly fry them (and I mean quick, like 30 seconds per asparagus stick) before serving. So these make a fantastic party appetizer that is sure to wow your friends. 

That's also my tactful way of saying, guys, don't make these unless you're having a few friends over to help you eat them because they are so good that you'll end up eating a LOT of cheese all by yourself otherwise. But if that happens, at least there won't be any witnesses… ๐Ÿ™‚

Fried cheesy asparagusCrunchy, Cheesy Asparagus, serves 6-8 as an appetizer.

12 string cheese sticks
12 stalks of asparagus
2 eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
oil for frying (I used a combination of peanut and vegetable because that's what I had on hand.)

First, trim the asparagus stalks so they are about the same length as the cheese sticks, or a bit longer. Use a knife to cut a slit down the center of the string cheese, only cutting about 1/3 to 1/2 way though the stick and not quite all the way to the end. Insert the asparagus stalk. Dip the whole thing in flour, then into the whisked eggs, and last into the Panko crumbs. Set on a plate and repeat until you've assembled all the sticks.

You may find that some of the asparagus don't seem to want to stay inside the string cheese perfectly. That's OK! The egg and bread crumbs will act as a binder to hold the sticks together, so don't worry if they don't appear perfect.

How to deep fryOnce you have all the sticks assembled, pop them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes and up to a few hours. This will help them to stay together better once you start frying, and this means you can prep these hours before you need them. 

Heat enough oil in a large pot so the asparagus sticks will be fully submerged once you start cooking. Heat the oil to around 350ยฐF. I like to use a candy thermometer when frying, but you can also simply test the oil by dropping in a small piece of bread and see how quickly it cooks. 

Fry each stick for 30-35 seconds, no need to flip these. Then remove to a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. You can cook a few of these in the pot at once (depending on your pot size), but don't crowd the pot as it can lower your temperature and make things stick together. I also recommend using kitchen tongs when frying as it makes it much easier to remove things from the hot oil. You want to be careful as that hot oil will really hurt if you get any on your skin. 

Crunchy and Cheesy Asparagus Sticks (via abeautifulmess.com)  For a quick sauce, I combined 3/4 cup mayo, juice from one lime and a teaspoon of wasabi. You can add more or less wasabi depending on how much spice you like. Serve warm with the dipping sauce and watch them disappear. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.