Asparagus seems like a pain to cook, and there’s even a special pot available to cook it, but I found a way to prepare and cook it fast, and the asparagus comes out just right every time. Every time.
If the asparagus spears are as thin or thinner than a pencil, there’s little reason to peel them. Any spears thicker than that, an OXO, or better yet a Kuhn Rikon peeler will do a great job. Just lay each spear down, take a strip of peel from below the tip of the spear to the bottom of the stalk. Rotate the spear ¼ turn, peel it again, and repeat 2 more times. You don’t have to get all of the peel off, just 4 sides.
Next, cut off the bottoms of the stalks, so that the spears fit in your sauté pan.
Next, boil ½ cup of water, lay the asparagus spears in a saute pan, 1 or 2 layers deep, and pour in the boiling water.
Put the lid on tightly, and turn the heat to high. The water should boil in about 1 minute. When it boils, cook the asparagus for 4 minutes, with the lid on tight for steaming.
Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let the rest of the water steam away. If there is too much water, drain it.
Return the heat to medium, and add 1 Tablespoon of butter. As it melts, roll the asparagus spears back and forth until the butter coats them. If the asparagus begins to brown, that’s okay, it tastes great.
Remove the asparagus spears and put them on a serving plate. Salt and black pepper them. A little chopped parsley on top of the asparagus is optional. A few shaves of parmesan cheese is good, and wrapping them in proscuitto is a classic.
Sauteing them in toasted sesame oil sounds good, but it is not.
How to Store Asparagus
If you store asparagus in a plastic bag, the tips will soon begin to rot. I take the entire bunch, still in a rubber band, and slice off an inch from the bottom of the stalks with one cut of a chef’s knife.
Then I pour an inch of water into a large coffee cup, put the asparagus in it, and tuck the plastic bag into the cup to keep the water from evaporating. The asparagus tips will stay dry, and the asparagus will store for a week. Change the water every few days, and maybe slice a little more off the bottom of the stalks to keep the cuts fresh.