Saturday, November 5, 2011

Scallops in Coconut Curry Sauce

Although I love Italian food most, Thai or other Asian cuisines are probably my second favourite type of food to cook and eat. And the brilliant part is a lot of the dishes take very little time to make and have incredible flavour. This dish is no exception. You could certainly substitute scallops for any other protein; shrimp or chicken would be best in my eyes. I chose to server this over basmati, but jasmine rice, chow mein or rice vermicelli would be equally delightful. I think that's why I love Italian and Asian foods ... they both make excellent use of noodles. Man do I love noodles. Okay, on with the recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into 3" chunks and bruised (do this by hitting it with the back of your knife)
  • 5-6 kaffir lime leaves (if you can't find them you can substitute for the zest of one lime but the leaves are best ... I got mine at T&T)
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon curry paste (I used red curry paste and was generous with my tablespoon. I also used a different brand which had the paste in oil, and I quite liked it - this brand's paste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 12 whole cardamom pods, crushed
  • ~6 scallops per person (I used one package of PC Nova Scotia sea scallops - they're actually quite good if you can't find nice fresh ones)
  • bok choy, red pepper and onion (or whatever vegetables you prefer)
  • basmati rice, cooked
Directions:
  1. Make the sauce. Put the first 9 items into a medium sized saucepan, bring to a boil (stir to blend), and then turn down to a simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand to allow the flavours to blend. Taste it and season with salt and pepper as needed. If you want, now is a chance to add more lime juice (freshness), fish sauce (salt & savoury) or even curry paste (heat & flavour)
  2. Cook the rice. If you haven't already done this, of course. You want the rice to be done before you start the scallops as the scallops and veg don't take long. You also want your rice to be hot. Duh. 
  3. Sear the scallops. Make sure your scallops are very dry or they won't brown properly. Heat a large skillet on high heat. Add enough olive oil (or butter, but it will burn quicker) to just cover the bottom of the pan. Add in your scallops (don't over-crowd the pan!) and season well with sea salt. Allow to cook until browned on one side (about 2 minutes) before you flip them over and brown on the other side. Be careful not to over-cook them. Scallops can actually be eaten raw so no worries about under-cooking them. Set them aside on a plate once they're done.
  4. Cook the vegetables. In the same skillet as you cooked the scallops in (wipe it clean if your oil or butter was burnt as you don't want that flavour in the veg), add a bit of oil and sauté the veg until just cooked but still crisp (depending on the veg you used, you may want to cook in stages. For example, your onion and pepper will take more time than your bok choy). Season with salt. Yes, you season everything along the way as you cook it!
  5. Combine it all and ready yourself for deliciousness. Strain the sauce (don't forget to do this - you don't want to be eating whole lime leaves or stalks of lemongrass) into the skillet with the veg. Add the scallops back in with the veg and sauce and combine. If you left the scallops and sauce for a while, just be sure to gently heat it all. Serve over rice and enjoy! Yay for tasty goodness!

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