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  • Bute St Seafoodie

Steamed Garlic Scallops with Glass Noodles

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

Perhaps I misrepresented myself in my post of Scallop and Apple Tartare with Pickled Cucumber when I said I preferred scallops raw to cooked. In fact, I had forgotten that I do really enjoy them steamed. So I was delighted when I came across this Chinese-influenced dish of steamed scallops. And it's so straightforward!

If you're not keen to shuck your own scallops then, of course, a dish like this is still one that can be prepared from tubs of pre-shucked scallops which are available at the market in summer months.

However, there is something appealing about a scallop dish being presented in the shells. Good fishmongers reserve the most aesthetic shells. It's just that you have to ask. There may well be a nominal charge, but they are reusable many times if washed before and immediately after use. I'm sure our friends on the stall would gladly offer a few shells to regular customers as a by-product from the shucking process of getting tubs of scallops to the market. It's just that you might have to ask!

And don't forget, even though this dish calls for only the white part of the scallop, there is quite a fun way of making use of the roe: see Crispy Fried Seaweed.

Glass (or cellophane) noodles are not the same as what is commonly called rice vermicelli. Glass noodles are made from bean starch, sometimes mung bean, sometimes pea starch, possibly starch from other legumes. They are extremely cheap and readily available in Asian grocery shops.

The scallops don't have to be steamed in the shell (the shells take up a lot of room!), but they should be steamed over the noodles so that the noodles cook in the juices. This can be done on a plate or in a bowl in the steamer and the final dish assembled later. For more on steaming, see the tips below.

Steamed Garlic Scallops with Glass Noodles

Ingredients (for 3 scallops)

3 scallops, white part only, round half of the shells cleaned, washed and reserved

A small nest of glass noodles

1 tbsp finely chopped garlic (approx. 1 large garlic clove)

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp vegetable or sunflower oil

1 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp water

Pinch of sugar

A few picked coriander leaves

Lime wedges to serve


  1. Put the chopped garlic and the two oils in a small saucepan and fry over a medium-low heat for a couple of minutes until cooked but not coloured. Allow to cool and leave aside.

  2. Bring a separate saucepan of water to the boil and put in the glass noodles. Boil for 30 seconds only, then drain, cool under cold running water and leave to drain further.

  3. Prepare the steamer.

  4. Meanwhile, put a small bundle of glass noodles in each scallop shell, place a scallop on top and top with a pinch of the fried garlic.

  5. Next, put the soy sauce, water and the pinch of sugar in the small saucepan used to cook the garlic, bring to the boil and allow to simmer gently so as to keep warm until ready to be used.

  6. Put the scallop shells in the steamer and steam for 3 minutes and meanwhile, strain the soy and garlic dressing so as to remove the garlic.

  7. Remove the scallops from the steamer (tongs are useful here!) and place on the presentation dish (see tip). Spoon over some of the soy and garlic dressing, garnish with the coriander leaves and serve with the lime wedges.


  • For a makeshift steamer, use a large, deep frying pan with a lid, and mount a plate on top of something like a pastry cutter or ring mould.

  • To make a scallop shell stand in position on a serving plate, place a slice of lemon, perhaps 5-7mm thick on the serving plate and press the shell into it. This can be done before the shell sees any heat so that the lemon slice is moulded.


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