1 tsp tan or black sesame seeds
1 lb medium-width or fat asparagus, stems trimmed
1 Tbsp coarse sea salt
For the miso-sesame sauce:
2 Tbsp tan sesame seeds
2 Tbsp shiro (white) miso
3 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
In a small, dry, nonstick frying pan, toast 1 tsp sesame seeds for 2 minutes over low heat, just until the seeds begin to brown slightly. Pour the seeds into a small bowl, and set aside for garnish.
Trim the woody ends of the asparagus and, if the spears are fat, use a vegetable peeler to remove some of the scales from the lower half.
Fill a large bowl with 2 quarts of water and a tray's worth of ice cubes, and set aside.
Fill a large saucepan with 2-3 quarts of water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and sea salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes, depending on the size of the spears, until they are crisp-tender. Remove the asparagus with a spider or slotted spoon, and toss the spears into the bowl of ice water (this stops the cooking and sets the color). After 5 minutes, remove the asparagus and drain on a clean dish towel.
Make the sauce: Grind 2 Tbsp of sesame seeds in a cute little grinder gizmo, spice mill, or mortar and pestle. If using a mortar, add the miso and rice vinegar, a little at a time, and blend well. (Or you can toss it all into a mini food processor and blend to a nice consistency.)
Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter, and drizzle the sauce across the top. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds, and serve chilled or at room temperature.