If you want to get to the heart of Japanese home cooking, you will appreciate Phaidon’s most recent Country Cookbook, Japan: The Cookbook by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. This hefty collection of over 400 recipes showcases the breadth of Japanese home-cooking today, and is a great reference book for any cook keen on the cuisine.
Asparagus with Sesame-Vinegar Dressing | アスパラの胡麻酢和え
- 600 g (1lb 5oz) asparagus
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil [canola]
- 2 teaspoons gold sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 pinch of flaky sea salt
A trio of sesame seeds brightens up asparagus with its subtle flavor and pretty combination of colors.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Snap the bottoms off of the asparagus where they naturally want to break. Blanch until crisp-tender, 2–5 minutes depending on the thickness. Refresh under cold, running water. Pat dry in a clean tea towel. Cut on the diagonal into 2 cm (3⁄4-inch) pieces.
In a small frying pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the sesame seeds when you can feel some heat rising from the pan. Cook, stirring until you can smell the aroma of sesame, about 1 minute. Scrape into a small bowl to cool.
Toss the asparagus pieces with the cooled sesame seeds, vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, and salt. Serve at room temperature, or cold the next day as a salad or vegetable side dish.
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