Thursday, August 22, 2013

Spicy Sea Scallops with Kangshan Chili Sauce and Shredded Green Bell Peppers & Red Chiles

This dish straddles the line between traditional and non-traditional because I more or less made it up (although I did take inspiration from a recipe from Panda Inn's 2002 March calendar feature called "Sizzling Scallops with Asparagus"). My sauce ingredients are similar - soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, cornstarch, sugar, and white pepper - but I use very different proportions and plain water instead of chicken stock. Also, my recipe incorporates julienned green bell peppers instead of asparagus because asparagus is very seasonal and, hence, not always readily available. This dish is saucy and has a kick to it so goes great with steamed white rice. If you're not a spice fiend, then just cut down on the amount of chile sauce and/or fresh red chiles called for in the recipe. It's all good.

1 lb. sea scallops

1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg white
2 tsp. oil
2 tsp. cornstarch

1 1/2 cups water
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. rice wine
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 scallions, chopped
3 Fresno or red Jalapeno chiles, seeded and julienned
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and julienned (or, 1 bunch thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2" sections)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 tbsp. Chinese chile sauce (preferably a Kangshan Chili Sauce from S. Taiwan)
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups vegetable oil

1. Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towels. Place them in a bowl and combine with the marinade ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours.

2. Combine all the sauce ingredients into a measuring cup or bowl. Set aside.

3. Place 1/2 cup of cornstarch on a plate or shallow dish. Remove the scallops from the marinade and coat lightly in the cornstarch.

3. In a wok or large saute pan, heat the 2 cups of oil over high heat until quite hot. Add the scallops (do not overcrowd - cook in 2 batches if necessary) and fry about 3 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Remove to a paper towel-lined dish to drain.

4. Pour out all but about 2 tsp. of oil in the pan and return to the stove over medium-high heat. Add the red onion, garlic, ginger, red chiles and green bell peppers to the pan and saute for a few seconds, then stir in 1 tbsp. of Chinese chile sauce. Stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 1 minute.

5. Add the sauce to the veggies and bring to a boil. Cook briefly over high heat until the sauce has thickened. Add the scallops, give a quick stir, then remove the pan from the heat.

6. Plate the scallops on a serving dish and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Rinse and pat scallops dry.

Marinate in salt, egg white, oil and cornstarch.

For the sauce: rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper.

Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a measuring cup or medium bowl.

Shredded green bell pepper and Fresno red chiles, chopped scallions, sliced red onion, minced garlic, minced ginger, and chopped cilantro.

Chinese chili sauce. This is my favorite - a chile sauce from Kangshan, Kaohsiung, in Southern Taiwan. It consists of chiles, salt, sesame oil and some 'secret' seasonings. If you can't find this stuff, feel free to substitute with any chili garlic sauce or even hot bean paste. 

Dredge the scallops lightly in cornstarch then fry in 2 cups of oil over high heat for about 3 minutes until they are crispy and lightly browned.

Remove and drain the scallops on a paper towel-lined plate.

Remove all but 1 couple tsp. of oil from the pan, return to medium high heat, and add all the vegetables except for the cilantro. Saute for a few seconds, then stir in the chili sauce. Continue stir frying for about a minute until the veggies are crisp-tender.

Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 30 seconds or until the sauce has thickened.

Add the scallops, give a quick stir, and remove the pan from the heat.

Serve on a platter and garnish with fresh cilantro. Great with steamed white rice.

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