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Japanese pickled ginger, the type offered alongside sushi, is a tangy-sweet, fiery accent for grassy asparagus. We first cook the ginger with a little sugar in a good dose of butter so the sugars caramelize lightly as the butter browns, developing a solid flavor base for the sauté. Pickled ginger may be yellowish-white or pink; we prefer the former because no colorings are added, but both types work. Look for it in the Asian aisle of the supermarket or in the refrigerator case near the tofu.
tablespoons salted butter
cup drained sliced pickled ginger (see note), roughly chopped
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