The Sweet Mandarin Cookbook – Steamed Soy Sauce Scallops

Steamed soy sauce scallops

Gluten free (if you use tamari), dairy free

My dad, Eric, sits quietly reading the Sunday papers and pretends to not pay much regard to my mum, Mabel, but in his heyday, he was according to our mum, quite the Romeo and used to drive Mabel to differing parts of the UK to ‘see the world’. Mabel had never tried scallops before so Eric took her to Scotland and attempted to dive for scallops so that Mabel could try these divine molluscs. Eric and Mabel met with an old fisherman who found it amusing that two Chinese people wanted to dive for scallops and agreed to take them out to the North Sea. 

It turns out that Eric couldn’t actually swim but he didn’t want Mabel to know that. As the old fisherman shouted jump, Eric dug deep into himself and pressed his palms into the rail, hefting himself up on trembling arms. Whispering a silent prayer to his ancestors, he found the last of his strength and levered himself up and over the rail and out into the cold icy air.

Eric swallowed the salty water and it stung his eyes. Flapping in shock, the old fisherman had to haul him out laughing at ‘the big catch’ he’d just made. Although Eric didn’t succeed in fishing for any scallops, the old fisherman took pity and gave him a bag and thanked him for the amusing experience. Whenever we make this dish at home, it has my mum in stitches and my dad rolls his eyes and returns to his newspaper.

Serves 2

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

10 large scallops in the shell (if no shell place on a saucer)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
50g rice vermicelli clear glass noodles
10 teaspoons dried minced garlic
2 spring onions, finely diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
splash of light soy sauce

• Assemble the scallops on a saucer if not in their shells. Season with salt and sugar.

• Soak the glass noodles in cold water for 3 minutes and place them evenly onto the scallops. Then spoon a generous amount of minced garlic onto each scallop.

• Once the water is boiling and steam is appearing from a steamer, steam the scallops for 10 minutes. Do not place in the steamer if the water is not boiling and it is not creating steam.

• Once the scallops turn from translucent pink to opaque white and are firm to touch, take out and sprinkle with diced raw spring onions.

• Heat the oil in wok on a high heat until very hot and then pour on top of each scallop – this will cook the spring onions and seal the scallop edges. Drizzle with soy sauce and serve.

How to Steam

Use an electric steamer and steam for 15 minutes or you can use a wok. Place a cake rack in the centre and fill with sufficient water just under the cake rack level. Turn the heat to high and when the water is boiling, place the plate of scallopson the cake rack. Cover with a lid and steam for 15 minutes.

Helen and Lisa Tse are third generation Chinese chefs, their grandmother, Lily Kwok, being the first Chinese woman to settle in Manchester and to open a restaurant – before Chinatown had even been thought of!

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