We have been testing and arguing, and testing and arguing, and have finally decided that there are TWO terrific ways to grill Sesame Asparagus. One is fast, light, and makes a wonderful fresh accompaniment to a week-day meal. The other is dense and rich, and goes especially well with complex, rich foods. We wouldn't want to do without either of them, so we have decided to post them both here.
Both begin with a classic blanching technique: clean the asparagus and pop off the tought ends at the bottom. Blanch for about 2 mins in boiling, salted water, then immediately remove them and put them in an ice water bath (to stop the cooking). After about 3 mins, remove them from the water, wrap them in paper towels (to remove water) and put them in a Ziploc in the fridge. When everything else you are cooking is almost done, put the asparagus on a thin sheet of foil on the grill (not heavy-duty foil) and allow them to re-heat while turning. If you place them over a hot fire, they will develop grill marks through the foil, so keep turning! Then....
Easy Grilled Sesame Asparagus
1 Tsp fresh Sesame Oil
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp fish sauce (optional)
1/4 tsp brown sugar
toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Mix the ingredients (except seeds) and pour the mixture over the asparagus while they heat. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds when you plate the dish.
Sesame Asparagus "Megumi"
3 Tbs creamy peanut butter (you can substitute tahini, but it will have a different taste and texture)
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Ponzu (optional)
1 Tbs honey
1/4 tsp rice or rice wine vinegar
1 Tbs sesame seeds, more for garnish
Grill the asparagus, as above, but cook them before you cook the other dishes. Cut the cooked spears into two or three pieces. Combine all the ingredients above, mix well, and add to the warm asparagus. You will have to gently massage the mixture to roughly coat the spears. Cover, and let sit until it reaches room temperature. This may be made ahead, and refrigerated until serving. Garnish with more sesame seeds.