Pencil-thin spears of asparagus are cooked until crisp-tender. When lightly chilled, they are served with an elegant tangerine-flavored dipping sauce.
1 pound very thin asparagus
3/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons tangerine juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon grated tangerine zest
1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Cut the asparagus stalks to measure 5 inches in length. (Pencil-thin stalks need not be peeled, but thicker ones should be.) Rinse the stalks and arrange them in a 7x11-inch baking dish with the water that clings. Sprinkle on enough additional water so that you can see numerous droplets. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. At that point, the stalks should be crunchy and sturdy enough for dipping. Immediately submerge the asparagus in cold water. When cool, arrange the stalks on a clean kitchen towel and gently roll up. Refrigerate until serving time.
2. In a small mixing bowl, blend the mayonnaise, tangerine juice, and mustard until well mixed. Stir in the shallot and tangerine zest. Cover and chill. Just before serving, spoon the dipping sauce into a decorative bowl and serve surrounded by the chilled asparagus.