2 hours ago, csingley said:
Today I tried steam-broiling the rest of my asparagus. Even preheating the oven, with the cooking tray on the middle position I was unable to get any color on them by the time the asparagus softened. I let some of it go until it did brown, by which time it was savagely overcooked (almost 20 min for medium-thick asparagi; mushy and green color gone to grey-brown). A completely failed result. I will try again with the rack up in the high position, so the asparagi are as close to the heat as possible - but perhaps the heating elements simply aren't powerful enough for this application. I'll also try straight convection broiling asparagus for a control... it's possible the higher thermal conductivity of the steam is undesirable, and I really need to retard cooking the interior until the skin's had a chance to blister.
Consider trying steam-bake instead of steam broil for your asparagus so they'll get heat from both top and bottom. I was happy with texture and flavor I got from asparagus cooked that way. Generally ~ 10 min steam-bake @ 425 F, no preheat for skinny spears, a bit longer for fat ones.
I was going for good roasted flavor, there was some browning but I wasn't specifically looking for a lot of char, so it may not be what you want. I was impressed that I was able to get a nice roast on the skinny spears without turning them into jerky !
edited to add: you can see the "color" or lack thereof on skinny spears in this post