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Sticky Scallops Malaysian Street Style

Malaysian Scallops

As I sit here intent on pecking out just the right words to define these seared scallops I’d like to share a little secret. Describing food is not as easy as it seems. I constantly struggle to find better, brighter, more evocative terms to keep you hungry. To aid me in this task I keep a list of foodie words. I call them my “delicious words”. A blogger should learn how to describe taste without having to use the word delicious over and over again. I have a list for  “best” and a list for “perfect” too. Sticky is a delicious word. Sticky Buns. Sticky Pudding. Sticky Wings. Sticky Shrimp. Sticky Scallops. Stick to your ribs!

Spiced Sticky Scallops Raw

Sticky Scallops

Sticky. The secret to sticky is in the sauce. The savory version I like could best be described at a street-style Malaysian sauce. It’s patterned after the flavors in the street food chef Zak Pelaccio “fell in love with when he lived in Kuala Lumpur”. I make some sort of adaptation of his sticky sauce a lot. Today I’m sticking it on seared scallops. Sticky Scallops Malaysian Street Style.

This sauce goes with everything. It’s all at once sweet, salty, sour, and even a little spicy. Oh yeah, it’s also sticky. It will stick to your fingers. You’ll probably have to lick it off your lips. If you dribble some down the front of you I guarantee it’s going to stick. Now doesn’t that sound… delicious. (Oops! I just couldn’t think of a better word). GREG

Sticky Scallops Malaysian Street Style

Sticky Sweet Salty Sour Spicy Seared Scallops

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4–8Source Sauce adapted from Food & WinePublished

“Dry” scallops (also called diver or day boat scallops) aren’t treated with the chemical known as STP which causes them to absorb extra water. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to achieve a nice brown crust when searing STP treated scallops.

Sticky Sweet Salty Sour Spicy Seared Scallops

Ingredients

  • 4–6 dried red chiles (such as arbol) to taste
  • 2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon anise seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 5 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 (2‑inch) piece fresh ginger (peeled and grated)
  • 8 large “dry” sea scallops (shelled and prepped) at room temperature
  • fine sea salt (as needed for seasoning)
  • freshly cracked black pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 2 teaspoon canola oil (or other mild flavored oil with high smoke point)
  • cilantro leaves (as garnish)

Directions

In a small skillet, toast the chiles, coriander seeds, anise seeds and cumin seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind to a fairly fine powder. Transfer the ground spices to a small saucepan and stir in the sugar, lime juice, molasses, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, and ginger.

Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and cook over low heat until reduced to a thick and syrupy *4 to 5 ounces, about 25 to 30 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Set aside in a warm place.

When you’re ready to sear the room temperature scallops pat them very dry with paper towels and season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Add the oil and let it heat until it shimmers but is not yet smoking. Swirl the skillet to coat and pour off excess oil. Add the scallops in a single layer, do not crowd the skillet, work in batches if necessary. The scallops should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Cook, pressing down lightly on the scallops with a spatula to ensure an even browning if they don’t sit flat, for 2–3 minutes. Do not disturb them or peek at them during this time. Flip the scallops and repeat the pressing if necessary. Cook for an additional minute or so. Remove the scallops from the pan placing each one onto a small warm plate. Dress each scallop with a spoonful of the warm (not hot) sauce (to taste, remember it’s spicy) and garnish with a few small cilantro leaves.

*This recipe makes more sauce than is needed for eight scallops. You could probably dress 24 large scallops with this amount of sauce. Cover and refrigerate any unused sauce up to 1 week.

Sticky Scallops Malaysian Street Style

 

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