Home-style Stir-fried Scallops with Fragrant Prawn Paste

Chinese people love seafood in any form, and the fresher the better.

Where I grew up, in Chicago’s Chinatown, there was always fresh fish sitting on bins of chipped ice, as well as dried seafood gracing the shelves and glass cabinets of the local Chinese grocer.

At home, my mother would also use other seafood enhancements, such as prawn paste, to add another dimension to her stir-fried dishes. One of my favourites was this fresh scallop recipe. A small amount of prawn paste transforms ordinary scallops into a special savoury treat. This is an easy dish to assemble and prepare – perfect for today’s busy cook.

Ingredients

  • 675 g ( lb) scallops
  • tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons prawn paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Method

Pick through the scallops and remove the tough muscles. Drain on kitchen paper and pat dry.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, toss in the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Immediately toss in the scallops and stir-fry them for 2 minutes. Then spoon in the rice wine, prawn paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes, until the scallops are firm and cooked through. Now toss in the spring onions and sesame oil and continue to stir-fry for another minute. Serve at once with plain rice.

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