The Creamiest Asparagus Pasta with Kombu and Nori

The Creamiest Asparagus Pasta with Kombu and NoriRecipe courtesy of Eric Kim, The New York Times COOKING. Photo credit: Linda Xiao, The NY Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.

Yield: 4 servings, Time: 30 minutes.

In this quick pasta dinner, umami-rich seaweed stars twice: first, in the form of dasima (dried kelp), which seasons the pasta water and sauce with seaside savor; second, as gim (roasted seaweed), which lends deep nuttiness and some salty crunch, too. The pasta finishes cooking in a blush of heavy cream and a splash of the dasima broth, transforming into a dreamy emulsion balanced by rice vinegar. In this recipe’s final moments, a rich glug of sesame oil glosses the chewy rigatoni and echoes the toasted flavor of the gim, which sings.

1/2 c Chopped Gim, often labeled as Roasted Seaweed or Nori
2 (4") squares Dasima or Kombu
1 tbsp Kosher Salt
1 lb Rigatoni
1 ½ c Heavy Cream
1 small Red Onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 large Garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper, plus more to taste
1 tsp Rice Vinegar
½ lb Asparagus, thinly sliced at an angle
1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
Flaky Sea Salt, for serving

Fold the gim in half and, with very sharp kitchen shears or a chef’s knife, slice into thin strips. Set aside for serving.

In a large pot, combine 1 dasima square with 8 cups cold tap water. Bring the water to a boil and season with the kosher salt. Tumble in the pasta and cook for half the time the package tells you is al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta, then add it back to the pot. (Discard the dasima.)

Add the remaining dasima square, cream, red onion, garlic, black pepper and reserved pasta water to the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook the pasta until the onion-infused cream has thickened significantly, thinly coating the noodles, 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Add the vinegar and asparagus, and stir to combine for 1 minute. The residual heat from the pasta will gently cook the asparagus to tender-crisp. Stir in the sesame oil and season with more black pepper, if desired. Divide the pasta among serving dishes, discarding the dasima, and shower with the reserved gim and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Serve immediately, before the gim wilts and turns soggy.

Eat Your SEA Veggies