Updated: Jun 29, 2020
A great friend of mine is originally from Hong Kong. I asked him what his favourite seafood dish from home was and his response was: "I do like a stir-fry of scallops with vegetables". Even though I've said more than once that I prefer scallops raw as opposed to cooked, I do too.
The Chinese do seem to love their scallops and how they serve them up definitely appeals to me. And when scallops are available shucked in tubs this is a perfect, and quick, way to enjoy them.
This recipe originated from a promo for a jar of cooking sauce (see link).
As with all stir-fries, the key is to do all the prep in advance because the cooking time is so short. The ingredient list for a stir-fry always looks long relative to the cooking time, but with due attention to the "mise-en-place", the whole thing becomes so simple.
While researching Chinese cooking techniques I came across the process of "velveting". Clearly this is a process employed here and I've put a link below for those who are interested to know more. It's clever, but then so are the Chinese.
This dish is ideally served with steamed rice or egg noodles and, given we are using only the white part of the scallop, dare I suggest, Crispy Fried Seaweed.
Ingredients (serves 2)
10 scallops (i.e. one tub), white parts only, each cut into two discs
Cooking oil, sunflower or vegetable
Peppers, a mix of red, green and yellow, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 125g)
¼ tsp Chinese five-spice
2 tsp light soy sauce
1½ tsp cornflour
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp "Sambal Oeleck" chilli paste (optional, see note)
¼ tsp sugar (optional)
1 tbsp ginger, julienned
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
2-3 spring onions, cut into 1" lengths
In a bowl, mix the scallops, soy sauce, five-spice and half of the cornflour and set aside for about half an hour.
Mix the remaining cornflour with 1 tbsp water in a separate bowl.
In another bowl mix the Shaoxing rice wine, shrimp paste, chilli paste (if using) and the sugar, for the sauce.
Heat a wok or chef's pan to a medium-high heat and add about 1 tsp of the cooking oil to the scallops.
Put a splash of cooking oil in the pan and, when hot, add half of the ginger and garlic and stir-fry briefly, then add the scallops. Cook, turning regularly, for a minute or so until the scallops are half to three-quarters cooked. Remove and keep aside.
Add a splash more oil to the pan then stir-fry the remaining ginger and garlic for a few seconds, then add the peppers and continue stir-frying for about 1 minute.
Return the scallops to the pan, give them a quick stir, then add the sauce and, as soon as it is bubbling, add the spring onions. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
Finally, if the sauce has not already thickened, add the cornflour and water mixture, continue to stir-fry for about another 30 seconds, then dish up and serve.
Sambal Oeleck is no more than red chillies minced with oil and possibly some salt and preservatives. It's more associated with Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine than Chinese, but given the simplicity of the ingredients there's not really much to think about. I've even brought back something from Hungary that would be indiscernible from Sambal Oeleck. There's a link below to the one that I use, and also a link to what Waitrose offer. In absence a well-minced, mild red chilli will do the trick.
29 June 2020: General updates.