Peel the bottoms of 2 bunches thick asparagus. Snap off the ends; discard. Cook in a steamer basket set in a pot of simmering water, covered, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat; add 1/2 minced shallot and cook until soft. Remove from the heat and whisk in 3 tablespoons diced cold butter; add 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Pour over the asparagus. Season with pepper.
Photograph by Kang Kim