Seasoned with soy sauce and flavorful dashi broth, this Japanese-style Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus is incredibly delicious and ready in less than 30 minutes! It’s also gluten-free!
Spring is in the air! Say goodbye to hot pot and stews, and let’s welcome bright and light dishes with spring vegetables!
Today I’m going to share a super quick and easy Japanese Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus (海老とアスパラガス簡単和風パスタ).
What’s Japanese Pasta?
You might have heard of the word Wafu Pasta (和風パスタ) while you were visiting Japan. Wafu Pasta refers to Japanese-style Pasta.
Wafu (和風) means Japanese-style and we often use this word to describe something that’s Japanese-style. In cooking, it can be the use of Japanese flavor profiles and ingredients. You might have heard of Wafu Dressing (Japanese-style salad dressing) or Wafu Hambagu (Japanese style hamburger steak).
3 Tips to Make This Recipe
1. Pick good asparagus.
Asparagus is very sweet and delicious when it’s in season! You should look for firm and crisp stalks with tightly closed budding tips. There are different sizes of asparagus, and for this recipe, I think it’s best to pick thin to medium-width stalks so that they don’t require cooking for a long time.
2. Cook stalks and spears separately.
The texture of the food is important, especially when you want to fully enjoy seasonal fresh vegetables. You don’t want to get mushy wilted asparagus!
In cooking, little extra steps help and improve the final dish. Please remember to cook stalks first because they take a longer time to cook than spears.
3. Cook pasta till al dente in the frying pan.
Don’t cook your pasta until al dente when you are boiling pasta in the pot, as you will need to toss the pasta with ingredients and seasonings in the frying pan. You don’t want to end up with overcooked pasta. Purposely undercook the pasta for this dish.
Make this Japanese Pasta Gluten-Free
Gluten-Free Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is traditionally brewed from water, wheat, soybeans, and salt. If you are gluten intolerant, you won’t be able to use soy sauce in cooking unless it’s tamari soy sauce (100% wheat-free ones) or gluten-free soy sauce.
The texture and flavors are just like regular pasta. Mr. JOC and the kids didn’t notice that this was a gluten-free dish until I mentioned it. So if you have a family member or friend who is allergic to gluten, you can all still enjoy the same meal with this pasta!
Use Other Spring Vegetables
There are so many wonderful spring vegetables that you can incorporate into this dish in case you don’t like asparagus. Here are my choices of spring vegetables that would go well with this dish.
- Belgian endive
- Butter lettuce
- Cabbage (in Japan, we have “spring cabbage” 春キャベツ)
- Collard greens
- Fava beans
- Green beans
- Mustard greens
- Snow peas
- Swiss chard
The Amount of Chili Peppers
Mr. JOC and I love adding 1-2 dried red chili peppers (without seeds) in this pasta. I’d chop into smaller pieces and cook with olive oil and garlic to infuse the flavor. However, my children think it’s a bit too spicy, even with one red chili pepper.
If you have children, another option is to sprinkle crushed chili peppers over pasta at the table. As the chili peppers are not infused into the oil, you would need more chili flakes to enjoy the kick, but it works.
If you love spicy food, I highly recommend cooking with chili peppers. I hope you enjoy this recipe with your family and friends!
Japanese Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus
- ¼ red onion (2.5 oz, 70 g)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 oz asparagus
- 10 shrimp (9 oz, 260 g; peeled and deveined)
- kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1-2 dried red chili pepper (seeds removed; optional)
- ¼-⅓ cup dashi (Japanese soup stock; click to learn more)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce (GF soy sauce for gluten-free)
- crushed red peppers (red pepper flakes) (optional)
- 8 oz gluten-free pasta (4 oz/113 g per person; I used my favorite GF pasta brand's linguini)
- Gather all the ingredients and bring a big pot of water to boil.
- Meanwhile cut red onion and garlic cloves into thin slices.
- Cut asparagus diagonally and separate spears and stalks, we will sauté asparagus stalks first as they take longer to cook.
- Sprinkle kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on shrimp. If your shrimp is not peeled or deveined, you can check my tutorial for instructions.
- Once the pasta water is boiling, for 4QT (16 cups or 3.8L) add 2 Tbsp salt. As we will cook the pasta a little longer after draining, cook it 1 minute less than the directions on the package.
- Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add shrimp and cook until the bottom side is nicely browned, about 2-3 minutes. Don’t touch the shrimp until it releases itself from the skillet. Once it has nice char on one side, you can easily flip.
- When one side of the shrimp is nicely browned, flip and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes. Once the shrimp are nicely golden brown, transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Lower the heat to medium-low, add the butter and swirl around.
- Add the red onion and garlic slices and sauté for 1 minute. If you like spicy pasta, add chili pepper now. Increase the heat to medium and add the stalks of asparagus. Sauté for about 3 minutes, until asparagus stalks become tender.
- Then add the spears of asparagus and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the asparagus are tender but still nice and crisp.
- Add the shrimp back into the skillet, add dashi, and increase the heat to medium-high heat.
- Add gluten-free soy sauce and adjust based on your preference.
- Add the cooked pasta and toss to combine with the ingredients. If you like, sprinkle freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately. Optionally, you can garnish with chili pepper flake.