March 17, 2009
Spicy Scallop Stir Fry

I am not a trained chef, despite the name of our blog. (Apparently a band in Canada snagged the "toomanycooks" domain before Barrett could get his hands on it.) And the one area of cooking where I am most painfully aware of my lack of formal training is Chinese cuisine. I love it and I love making it, but I'm pretty sure that watching me would make an actual Chinese person shudder in dismay. This is why I rarely post recipes that purport to be Chinese. And it's also why I didn't photograph this recipe. I thought it would be good enough to eat (I'm competent enough for that) but nothing more. About five minutes after serving it, I heard the Critic saying for the third time "This is really good!" and realized that - pathetically short on training or not - I had come up with a really tasty dish. I love it when that happens; it makes me feel like maybe I do know what I'm doing when I fly by the seat of my pants. It also shows that if you have a good selection of fresh seasonal vegetables in your refrigerator, the world is your oyster. And a packet of frozen scallops also helps.

What I loved about this dish was the way the sweetness of the scallops played against the spiciness of the pepper. Add to that a colorful selection of crunchy vegetables and the whole mess sang with flavor and interesting textures. I have another package of frozen scallops in the fridge and the vegetable delivery is due today. I have my fingers crossed for the same boring old root vegetables as last time, because this dish turns them into stars. Oh and it's only 7.5 points per generous serving, including the rice. Heaven on a plate.

Spicy Scallop Stir Fry (serves three, 7.5 WW points per serving)

200 g frozen small scallops
2 small red chili peppers, minced
4-5 brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a small savoy cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, sliced in thin coins
1 leek, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs ginger, finely chopped
1 Tbs sunflower or vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp oyster sauce
2 Tbs mirin or sherry
Soy sauce to taste
2 large portions of cooked rice (225 g cooked, 90 g dry)

Heat the wok to a very high temperature and swish the oil in it. Add the carrots and cook for a few minutes. Add the cabbage and the mirin or sherry and cook for a few moments more. Add the peppers, leeks, garlic and ginger and cook for a few moments but not long enough to burn the garlic and ginger. Push all the vegetables up the sides of the wok (where it is cooler) and add the scallops. Sear them on each side very quickly. Add the rice and mix the vegetables and scallops with it thoroughly. Add soy sauce to taste - but do not go overboard. I added less than usual and the Critic, uncharacteristically for him, did not add any more to the finished dish. Remove from heat and stir in the oyster sauce and sesame oil. Taste again for seasoning and serve on large plates, with a big smile as you smell all the wonderful flavors wafting up from the plate.

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