Asparagus with sesame seeds

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.

Asparagus with sesame sends

Asparagus with sesame sends

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.

Chopped asparagus

Chopped asparagus

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.

Asparagus, blanching briefly

Asparagus, blanching briefly

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.)


This is a suribachi, which has grooves on the inside. The Japanese name for the “pestle” is a surikogi.

After the sesame seeds are ground, they become wonderfully fragrant.

Sesame seeds, after grinding

Sesame seeds, after grinding

You’ll notice that I’ve ground them fairly roughly.

Sesame seeds, ready for the next step

Sesame seeds, ready for the next step

Then add some light soy sauce and mix well.

Sesame seeds and soy sauce

Sesame seeds and soy sauce

All that’s left is to toss with the asparagus and serve.


  1. 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)
  2. 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 sauce mixture. For a heavier taste, you could also add 1/2 tsp sesame oil.

This entry was posted in Asparagus, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Asparagus with sesame seeds

  1. Pingback: Asparagus with ponzu sauce | TastyAsia

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