This Japanese-style wafu pasta with shrimp and asparagus is seasoned with soy sauce and flavorful dashi broth. You can make it in less than 30 minutes and 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 vegetable! Today I’m going to share a super quick and easy Japanese-style Wafu Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus (海老とアスパラガス簡単和風パスタ).
Watch How To Make Wafu Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus
Click here to watch on YouTube
What’s Wafu Pasta?
Some of you probably heard of the word “Wafu Pasta” but it’s a term that’s usually heard only in Japan. What does it mean? Wafu (和風) means Japanese-style. and we often use this word to describe somethings that’s Japanese style (e.g. salad dressing). In today’s case, we’re making a western pasta dish into Japanese style.
You might also have heard of Wafu Hambagu, which I shared on the blog in the past. Basically, traditional hamburger steak but made with Japanese style in terms of flavors, ingredients etc.
Wafu Pasta with 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
3 Tips for making Wafu Pasta with Spring Vegetable
1. Pick good asparagus.
Asparagus is very sweet and delicious when it’s in season! You should look for firm and crisp stalks with tight 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 fry 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 fry pan. You don’t want to end up with overcooked pasta. Purposely undercook the pasta for this dish.
Yes or No for 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.
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.
Gluten Free Pasta
I’ve tried several brands of gluten free pasta and by far Garofalo’s Gluten-Free Spaghetti and Linguine are the BEST pasta that I’ve tasted. 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!
If you’re gluten intolerant, check out my Gluten Free Recipes for additional recipe ideas.
- ¼ red onion (1/4 onion = 2.5 oz = 70 g)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 oz asparagus (6 oz = 170 g)
- 10 large prawn (peeled and deveined)(10 prawns = 0.6 oz = 260 g)
- kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1½-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1-2 dried red chili pepper (seeds removed) (optional)
- ¼-1/3 cup dashi (60-80 ml)
- 1 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce
- crushed red peppers (red pepper flakes) (optional)
- 8 oz gluten free pasta (4 oz/113 g per person; I used 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 prawn. If your prawn 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 prawn 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 the 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 prawn back in to the skillet and increase the heat to medium high heat. Add dashi.
- 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.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.
Full Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kikkoman USA. Thoughts and opinions stated are my own.