A simple & quick side. It's one of my standbys for all occasions. You can whip these up in 6 minutes from a standing start.
Put 1/2lb asparagus into 1/2 quart boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until they are bright green. Throw them into the strainer, then put the back in the pot over the same heat. Add 1tbsp soy sauce and 1tsp sugar and roll it all around until you smell the sugar burning / carmelizing. Serve hot with a pat of butter.
What's going on here
Soy is an ancient mix of salt and savory. Caramelized sugar starts to bleed into savory territory as well. Add in the veggie bitter and texture of asparagus and you get a side dish that is surprisingly complex but flexible, equally good with bloody red meat, risotto and boiled chicken.