Recipe: chinese stir-fried scallops
That cool down was a lie. It cooled down for all of one day and then it flipped back to summer. Nature is a fickle lover and so it is that I am waiting for and chasing and waiting for and chasing her fall colors. She flirts and teases and disappoints. Right when I think I have had enough, she flaunts a little more and entices me to chase again. And I can’t help it, because I am so in love with her.
autumn’s grandeur is a little diminished this season
sparkling sunlight through the aspens
Nature photographers and lay persons have very different standards for what a good leaf show is, or so we found out from all of the locals’ reports. The average leaf-peeper passes miles of forest taking it all in without commitment to any of the colors, the light, the trees, the landscape. It’s purely passive. They don’t crawl around looking, thinking, analyzing, choosing, gaining intimate knowledge of the surroundings. Jeremy has asked me if photography has ruined my enjoyment of the outdoors. Yes and no, but mostly no. It’s a heightened sense of what is there, much the way becoming a connoisseur of fine foods might enhance your appreciation for food. But in addition to that soaring joy of getting the shot when the light and the land and the planets align, I can actively back away from shooting and love the mountains and forests for what they are. Because ultimately, this is about love and passion – the fire in my belly.
i’d love this for a living room floor
aspens provide a nursery for young pines
You can find the rest from this trip on the photo blog.
My friend Shauna is always talking about joy in the belly because that’s what she and Danny bring to people. They are pretty amazing at it too. Me? I’m more about joy in the heart because I like FIRE in my belly. That’s right. Figuratively speaking, it is what drives me to do what I do. When Jeremy’s stomach is feeling unsettled, he seeks dairy to soothe it (uh, that would be disastrous for my lactose intolerant self). When my stomach is unhappy, I look for spicy foods to make me feel better. I’m the one who wakes up in the morning craving kimchi, jalapeno potato chips (Tim’s Cascade are Diane’s and my favorite brand), or salsa. So when I tried this recipe for Chinese stir-fried scallops, mine was of the fiery persuasion.
chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, scallops, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, sugar, chinese black bean paste
soak the scallops in the cooking wine and cornstarch
The original recipe called for Chinese black bean sauce/paste. I have nearly every imaginable permutation of chili, garlic, and black bean sauces in my refrigerator. Chili paste, chili garlic paste, garlic black bean sauce, black bean paste, chili garlic black bean paste, and chili black bean paste. Turns out I only had one tablespoon of black bean paste left, but I had a whole jar of chili black bean paste. If spicy isn’t your thing, I highly recommend that you don’t substitute chili black bean paste for the black bean paste – or at least not 75% of it.
chopped scallions, sliced ginger, minced garlic, scallops, and the black bean mixture
first sauté the ginger and garlic in hot oil
When I first consulted with my parents about this recipe, they began to enthusiastically describe a white scallop dish. Not white as in Anglo-Saxon, but white as in a non-soy sauce-based dish. I said that wasn’t what I was looking for and my mother indignantly informed me that there wasn’t any other kind. I was staring at my computer screen with Saveur’s version looking pretty much like what was on my brain. I read the ingredients to my mom and she said, “Oh, well that’s the Cantonese style.” Oh, okay. Then dad got on the phone and we essentially repeated the same conversation as I had with my mom.
stir-frying the big, fat, juicy scallops
adding the (spicy) black bean sauce
Once you have your mise en place ready (it only takes a few minutes), the actual dish cooks up in three to four minutes. It was fantastic despite being on the somewhat spicy side (even for me). I think in the future I might go half and half with the black bean and chili black bean pastes and if I have guests over, I will go 3:1 plain to spicy black bean paste. Just promise me that you won’t overcook the scallops because THAT is sacrilege. They should be tender and sweet bites in a sauce full of savory earthiness with hints of zing from the ginger, onion, and garlic. (Make that a sauce full of spicy savory earthiness if you crank it up like I did). Fire in yer belly.
all that orange… that’s the spicy
Chinese Stir-Fried Scallops
slightly modified from Saveur
1 lb. fresh sea scallops (the big ones, don’t be doing this with those little ones)
1 tbsp Chinese sherry
1 tsp cornstarch
4 tbsps Chinese black bean sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsps water
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
4 or 5 slices of ginger
2 stalks green onion, fine chopped
Mix together the scallops, Chinese sherry, and cornstarch in a bowl until the scallops are evenly coated. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the black bean sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and water. Set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over high flame. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for a minute and add the scallops and scallions to the pan. Sauté for about a minute (those scallops cook fast and the saddest thing in the world is an overcooked rubbery scallop that costs $20/pound – so please don’t do that). Stir in the black bean sauce mixture. Stir stir stir for a minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately.