This Japanese recipe is another one that is perfect for its simplicity. In fact, it will almost take you longer to read this and look at the pictures than to actually cook it. All you do is blanch some cut asparagus, and then mix it gently with freshly ground sesame seeds and soy sauce.
Perhaps the only technical tip is the duration of the blanching. You really want the asparagus to stay crispy and fresh. I’d recommend adding it to boiling water for no longer than one minute, perhaps even 45 seconds, knowing that it will keep cooking for a few seconds before you can cool it down.
Start with asparagus. Chop it diagonally into three-inch lengths.
Heat a pan of water, and when it’s boiling, blanch the asparagus for about 45 seconds. Then drain in a colander and then submerse in cool water.
The next step is to grind some roasted sesame seeds in a mortar or in a suribachi. (A suribachi, pictured below, is a Japanese grinding bowl with a glazed outside and grooved interior.)
After the sesame seeds are ground, they become wonderfully fragrant.
You’ll notice that I’ve ground them fairly roughly.
Then add some light soy sauce and mix well.
All that’s left is to toss with the asparagus and serve.
INGREDIENTS and PREP:
- 1 bunch asparagus, about a pound, cut diagonally into 3″ lengths, woody ends discarded; blanched very briefly (about 1 minute), then drained in a colander and rinsed with cold water to stop further cooking (do not skip this step and do not boil the asparagus too long, it should remain quite crisp)
- 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds, freshly ground; mixed with 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
- Toss the blanched asparagus (#1) with the soy sauce and sesame seeds (#2), and then serve.
Variations: This recipe is basically all about combining fresh asparagus with a tasty sauce. You could add 1 tsp rice wine to the sesame.soy sauce mixture. For a heavier taste, you could also add 1/2 tsp sesame oil.