CUT OFF THE TOUGH BOTTOM END of the asparagus and discard. Peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler. Place asparagus in a skillet or saucepan just large enough to hold them lying down and barely cover with cold water. Add butter and salt and bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Stir the asparagus so it will cook evenly. The asparagus is done when the water has evaporated, leaving only the concentrated, buttery juice of the asparagus. Grind fresh pepper to taste over the asparagus and arrange on a vegetable platter.