CONTRARY TO MANY OTHER VEGETABLES, which are most tender when young and small, with asparagus, the bigger the spear the better. An asparagus spear contains fibers similar to a green bean and, in the thicker spears, those fibers are separated by more of the meaty pulp and are likely to be the most tender after cooking.
Before cooking, trim off and discard the tough bottom 1 to 2 inches of each spear. For wet methods of preparation (steaming and boiling) I always peel away an additional 4 inches of the spear, but for grilling, I like to keep the stalk intact.
When grilling asparagus, position the spears so the bases are over the hottest part of the fire and the delicate tips are over the coolest. String a wet bamboo skewer through the lower part of the stalks to make it easier to turn them on the grill.
Sesame Grilled Asparagus
16 jumbo asparagus spears
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Trim off and discard the bottom 1 to 2 inches of the asparagus spears and place them in a glass or stainless steel pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and lemon juice. Pour the mixture over the asparagus and let stand for 30 minutes.
Grill over a moderate charcoal fire for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the asparagus to a platter, drizzle with any remaining marinade and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.