Double Boiler or Percolator:
To steam asparagus in an upright position, fasten the stalks into a bundle using a band of foil or string. Stand the stalks upright in the double boiler or percolator with the tips extending an inch or more above the boiling, salted water. (A glass cooking vessel works best.) Cover and cook until tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
Cut spears diagonally in 1/2 inch pieces, leaving tips whole. Stir-fry pieces in butter or hot oil, in a skillet or wok at medium high heat. Stir constantly until tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
Microwave fresh asparagus by placing one pound in a microwavable baking dish or serving bowl. If cooking whole spears, arrange with tips in center. Add about 1/4 cup water and cover tightly. Microwave at 100% power for 4 to 7 minutes for spears, 3 to 5 minutes for cuts and tips. Stir or turn halfway through cooking time.
Microwave frozen asparagus in a covered microwavable baking dish with 2 Tablespoons of water. Cook at 100% power for 4 to 7 minutes, stirring or rearranging once.
Drain all but 1 Tablespoon of liquid, and microwave at 100% power for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking time.