Grilling asparagus concentrates its flavor. This recipe, from an article in the Washington Post by Steven Raichlen, uses toothpicks or skewers to hold together asparagus spears in a kind of “raft” that’s encrusted with sesame seeds, which become nicely toasted on the grill.
- 1 1⁄2lbasparagus, medium-thickness
- 2Ttoasted sesame oil
- 1Tlow-sodium soy sauce
- 2Twhite or black sesame seeds
Prepare the grill for 3 heat zones. If using a gas grill, preheat to high (650 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute most of them on one side of the cooking area. For a (direct-heat) hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 1 or 2 seconds. Spread a sparser layer of coals in the center, and leave the far side free of coals. Place a double layer of aluminum foil on the grate above the area with no coals. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Brush and oil the grill grate.
Meanwhile, snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard. Trim the ends with a knife so the stalks are a uniform length. Lay 4 or 5 asparagus spears side by side on the work surface (with no spaces in between). Pin them them crosswise at the top and the bottom, using toothpicks or short bamboo skewers, to form a raft. Repeat with the remaining spears.
Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic in a small bowl, stirring with a fork to mix well. Brush the mixture onto both sides of the asparagus rafts, then season the asparagus with a little salt and lots of pepper.
Place the rafts on the direct-heat side of grate and grill for 2 to 4 minutes on each side, until nicely browned on both sides (turn them over carefully); pull the rafts to the indirect-heat or foil-lined side of the grill to prevent burning, or to keep the vegetables warm as they are done. Sprinkle the asparagus rafts with the sesame seeds as they grill. Serve hot or at room temperature, still connected as rafts.