Cheese with Seafood? Your Call…

Try this riff on the classic combo of shrimp and asparagus, often paired together in pasta. Here, the addition of creamy coconut milk adds a fresh twist to the typical combination. Tagliatelle with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Coconut Milk is subtle and soothing, but the depth of flavor is definitely amped up in our case with the substitution of homemade seafood stock as opposed to a store-bought chicken broth.


Another minor tweak we made was after the asparagus was cooked and taken out of the pan, we added one tablespoon of oil before dumping in the minced shallots to prevent sticking to the skillet. And horrors to some, we also enjoyed a spoonful of grated parm as a topper. Wait, what?

“The rich, salty flavors of cheese can too easily overwhelm the flavors of fish, forcing a contrast not only in intensity of flavor, but also a sacrifice of the integrity of both ingredients. Grated cheese over a fish pasta is considered either extraneous, excessive, or demeaning.”

There’s a conventional wisdom in every authentic Italian kitchen that fish and seafood shall never be served on the same plate with bacteria fermented, pressed, and aged into oblivion—cheese in other words. And it’s not just the Italians. Any home cook will one day come across some blog or foodie friend that’ll condemn a seafood-cheese relationship (not me), and many will not even remember where they heard it or why they believe it. Myself included. But I’ve always allowed my tastebuds to make up my mind for me.

Now about the cognac. If you don’t have any on hand, and don’t feel like running out and buying some, use brandy instead. No brandy? You can try lemon juice, but don’t use too much or else it will just make everything taste lemony instead of “cognacky.” This aged, double-distilled wine (or fermented fruit juice) can also be replaced with peach, apricot or pear juice.

There was no way all of the ingredients would fit into the skillet to be tossed. Instead, we put the cooked tagliatelle in a ginormous pasta serving bowl and poured the contents of the skillet over it, then twirled to make sure everything got happy together. Each person could then serve themselves their own portion and top with grated cheese—or not!

NOTE: A can of coconut milk is usually 15.5 ounces, so you will have some leftover from the one cup used in the recipe. I suggested that my husband use it in his morning fruit smoothie, and he thought that was a great idea!



  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 lb. dried tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • 1 lb. large shrimp (31 to 35 per lb.), preferably wild-caught, peeled and deveined
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup chicken broth or seafood stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1 cup well-shaken canned coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 Tbs. Cognac
  • 2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives


  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they just start to turn pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  4. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the skillet, then add the asparagus, and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of shrimp.
  5. Reduce the heat to low. Add the shallot to the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the broth and coconut milk, and bring to a boil over high heat; boil until the sauce is thickened and  reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce the heat to low. Add the pasta, shrimp, asparagus, peas, Cognac, and chives to the skillet and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add a little of the pasta water to loosen, if necessary, and serve.


Adapted from Leticia Moreinos Schwartz from Fine Cooking

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