Chinese Food In Minutes

Wok-fried crispy scallops

Delicious and quick to make, this is a perfect starter for VIP guests.

Serves 2
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook in: 15 minutes

This is one of my favourite starters to serve when I have VIP guests! It is quick to make and tastes wonderful. The crunchy-crisp topping with the tender scallops is a delight.

10 raw scallops on the shell
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 pinch of brown sugar
½ lemon
1 medium red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable stock
mixed fresh herbs to garnish
mixed salad leaves to serve

For the crispy ‘seaweed’ and crispy leek
1 small baby leek, diced and dried thoroughly
potato flour or cornflour
300ml/10fl oz groundnut oil
1 head of green pak choy, leaf part only, finely shredded and dried thoroughly
coarse sea salt
light brown sugar

• First make the crispy ‘seaweed ’ and leek. Lightly coat the leek in potato flour or cornflour (no need to coat the pak choy). Heat the groundnut oil in a large pan to 180ºC/350ºF or until a cube of bread dropped in turns golden brown in 15 seconds and floats to the surface Using a slotted spoon, lower the leek and pak choy pieces into the oil and deep-fry for 5 minutes until they turn golden brown. Lift out and drain on absorbent kitchen paper, then add some sea salt and brown sugar and toss gently with your fingers so the seasoning lightly coats the crispy ‘seaweed’ and leek.
• Remove the scallops from their shells, then remove and discard the hard muscle on the side. Leave the coral on, if you like, or remove it. Trim and rinse the scallops and pat dry.
• Heat a wok over a high heat and add the groundnut oil, then add the Sichuan peppercorns and heat for a few seconds to release their aroma. Add the scallops to the wok and leave to settle for 1 minute, then toss the wok and the scallops. As the scallops start to turn opaque, add the rice wine or sherry, followed by the soy sauce. Cook for a further minute, then add the sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (catch the pips in your hands) and sprinkle the chilli into the wok. Transfer the scallops into a dish. Add the stock to the wok and heat through, then turn off the heat.
• To serve, put the scallops onto serving plates and drizzle with the remaining juices from the wok. Sprinkle with the crispy garnish and chopped chilli from the wok, dress with fresh mixed herbs and serve immediately with mixed salad leaves.

Ching’s Tip
The crispy ‘seaweed’ is incredibly easy to make and you can also garnish this dish with some fine mixed Oriental herbs such as shisho and mustard cress for an elegant finish.