Marinated Asparagus

Asparagus is available year-round at the conventional stores now, but it’s certainly best in spring and summer and bought from the local farmers’ market – avoid it in other seasons, when it’s likely to have traveled many miles, getting tough, using up fossil fuel, and losing a lot of nutrition along the way. (On this and many other food topics, I highly recommend Barbara Kingsolver’s wonderful essay about waiting for asparagus in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.) When you buy asparagus, regardless of size look for firm, unshrunken stems and tightly-closed tips. The best produce stands will store the bunches upright in a bit of water – take your cue from them, and when you get home, cut a bit off the bottom, stand the stalks upright in a glass with a 1/2″ of water in the bottom, and put it in the fridge. Better yet, cook it the day you buy it!

ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh asparagus

dressing

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T light soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar

method:

  1. Snap off the ends of each asparagus stalk where it does so naturally.
  2. If the spears are thicker than a pencil, peel the bottom ends.
  3. Cut in 1.5″ lengths or roll-cut.
  4. Steam (or blanch) just until crisp-tender and bright green (if you get to olive green, it’s a bit too well-done), then then shock in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color, draining well when cold.
  5. While the asparagus cools, combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
  6. 10-20 m before serving, combine the asparagus with the dressing, and serve.

do ahead:
Asparagus and dressing can be prepared up to 1 day in advance.
Do not combine until 10-20 m before serving, or the vegetable will turn an unattractive olive color.

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