Boil or pan fry asparagus on a stovetop. Either cooking method starts with a bunch of asparagus, unsalted butter, salt and pepper. Prepare the asparagus by rinsing it well under cold water and trimming off any tough bits of stalks or ends.
To prepare boiled asparagus, bring about 1 inch of salted water to a boil in a large skillet. Once boiling, add 1 pound of asparagus to the pan in one layer. Cook the asparagus for five to seven minutes, depending upon the thickness of the stalks. Drain the asparagus, and serve topped with butter, salt and pepper.
To prepare pan-fried asparagus, heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. When the butter is melted and starting to foam, place 2 pounds of washed and trimmed asparagus in the pan, and shake it around to coat it all with butter. Put the lid on the pan, and cook the asparagus over medium heat for about three minutes. Remove the lid, check to make sure each of the pieces is cooking evenly, and turn if necessary. Replace the lid, and cook until tender, about five minutes. Serve topped with salt, pepper and additional butter, if desired.