Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Asparagus

Not everybody likes asparagus, and I admit it's not the easiest vegetable to like, particularly if you have ever been subjected to the canned variety. (School cafeteria, I'm looking at you.) But fresh asparagus is wonderful. My mother is of the opinion that if you get really slender stalks, you should eat it raw, like a carrot. That's going a bit far for me. My favorite recipe is tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted in the oven.  But what's a Japanese take on asparagus?

I give you Asparagus Tossed with Crushed Black Sesame (aspara no kuro goma aƩ)

The ingredients are: 
  • 12 oz. asparagus 
  • 2 tsp. mirin 
  • 2 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds 
Michael Pollan would approve: it has only 4 ingredients. 
The sesame seeds are the hardest part, since they have to be toasted. One thing I have learned: heated sesame seeds pop! They were jumping out of the pan like popcorn. Save yourself some cleanup and use a lid.
black sesame seeds
Basically, you toast the seeds, and process them in the food processor with mirin and soy until its a grainy kind of paste, the book says it should resemble "wet sand". You can add stock or water if you think it's too thick. Put to one side.

With the sesame seeds out of the way, put a pot of salted water on to boil, and prep the asparagus. Remove the woody ends and slice the spears into 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces. Save the tips separately.

prepped and ready to go
When the water has reached a rolling boil, but in all the asparagus except the tips. Wait for the water to come back up to a boil and add the tips. Cook for another minute or two and then drain it. 

Put in a bowl and toss with the sesame seed mixture. It is now ready to serve. Tasty, green and oh so good for you. 

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