Sesame-Grilled Asparagus

Skip at the grill in KC.

   We were in KC over the weekend to teach a class at the Culinary Center. Cousin Skip just happened to be there at the same time.  Skip is the king of BBQ and always has something on the grill whenever he’s home. Ribs, pork loin, ham, chicken, and turkeys all get his special treatment but this time he also prepared some incredible grilled asparagus for a family gathering.
   Obviously we had a fun weekend! And, Skip even shared his version of the asparagus recipe. The original recipe comes from one of his favorite cookbooks, How To Grill by Steven Richlen. Touted as “The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques,” it features easy-to-make recipes. Here’s what Richlen says about his asparagus recipe, “Grilling, more than any other cooking method, makes asparagus taste sweet and springlike. But, the slender stalks present a problem, for they tend to fall through the gaps in the grate. The Japanese have come up with an ingenious solution: They skewer the stalks crosswise with a toothpick or bamboo skewer, making them easy to turn with tongs, and you don’t lose a single stalk to the fire.”

Sesame-Grilled Asparagus
1 lb. asparagus (the stems shouldn’t be too thin
Round toothpicks – Skip soaks them in water for skewering the asparagus. He has better
   luck w/ toothpicks than skewers that sometimes split the stalks of the asparagus.
2 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon sesame seed / extra for garnish (the heat from the grill will toast the seeds)
Coarse salt & black pepper to taste – the recipe calls for these but Skip doesn’t think either is needed so let you own taste be your guide

1.     Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
2.     Snap off the woody bases of the asparagus and discard.
3.     Arrange 4 asparagus stalks next to one another. Skewer them crosswise in two places—just below the tips and 1 1/2” from the bottom—with toothpicks. Leave a tiny bit of space between asparagus stalks – this allows the asparagus to cook on all sides. You will end up with something that looks like a raft.
4.     At this point, Skip arranges the stalks on a cookie sheet with sides. He drizzles them with sesame oil and soy sauce, and then sprinkles on the minced garlic and sesame seeds and lets them set on the counter for about 30 minutes.
5.     When ready to grill, place the asparagus rafts on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Skip put the grilled asparagus back in the pan containing the oil and soy sauce, covered it with foil to hold the asparagus until we were ready to eat.
6.     Garnish with additional sesame seeds, if desired. You can serve the asparagus as rafts or unskewered.

Nutritional Analysis per serving (129g or ¼ of recipe): Calories 112, Fat 9.2g (Saturated Fat 1.3g, Cholesterol 0mg), Sodium 228mg, Carbohydrate 6.0g (Fiber 3.0g, Sugars 2.2g) Protein 3.6g, Vit A 17%, Calcium 7%, Vit C 11%, Iron 18%.

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