The easiest way to get this texture is to blanch them, and this is also so quick. Method below...Don't try this with really thick spears - use the thinnest, freshest ones you can find.
Put a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Wash the asparagus spears. Trim the dried or hard ends off the bottom of the spears and lay them in a thin layer in a glass baking dish.
When the water comes to a boil, pour over the spears and let them sit for 3-5 minutes. Pull out a spear and test it after a couple minutes - it's easy to check for your preferred texture. When they are crisp-tender pour off the water and salt lightly.
Serve with melted butter or a vegetable dip. And if Julia Child herself gives permission to eat these with your fingers, who are we to argue?
(Image credit: David Eppstein)