Seared scallops on plantain coconut fritters with papaya & lime salsa

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Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey


By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

The first time I saw a box of plantain was in 1989 on Portobello Road in London’s Notting Hill. I thought they were actually big bananas rotting in the sun. It was a Ghanaian chef who first cooked them for me, and in The Sugar Club Cookbook, I wrote this, which still holds true, about them: ‘For those not familiar with plantains, they are those huge “bananas” that you may have seen in Caribbean or African food stores and markets. They are sold in shades from green (hard, starchy and unripe) to yellow (firm and semi-sweet) to mottled brown (soft and sweet). When ripe they are very banana-like in taste, but their main use is as a source of starch in tropical cooking - and for this the less ripe fruit is normally chosen.’

For this recipe you want to use plantain that are yellow and just a little soft. I used large Scottish-diver-caught scallops for this dish but you may have to settle for smaller ones. I truly believe you should always serve the coral on your scallops - it still amazes me that the majority of restaurant chefs discard this part of the scallop. If you don’t eat shellfish, then this combination of fritter and salsa, without the scallop, is really tasty as it is, with the addition of some salad leaves instead.


  • 1 yellow-skin plantain, as described on the left
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 3 Tbsp desiccated coconut, or freshly grated coconut
  • ½ red chilli, sliced (more or less to taste)
  • 1 egg
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) soy sauce
  • a handful of shredded coriander, plus some coriander leaves to garnish
  • ½ papaya, peeled and deseeded
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 6 basil leaves, shredded
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 large (or 16 smaller) scallops, cleaned, coral attached
  • vegetable cooking oil


Peel the plantain and weigh the flesh - you want roughly 180-200 grams. Cut into a fat julienne around 5 mm thick, or simply grate it coarsely or slice into thin rounds. Sieve the baking soda and baking powder and mix with the coconut, chilli and ¼ teaspoon salt, then mix this into the plantain. Using a fork, beat the egg with the soy and mix this into the plantain along with the coriander. Leave to one side.

Cut the papaya into small dice. Mix with the spring onion, lime zest and juice, basil and olive oil. Taste for seasoning, adding a little salt.

Toss the scallops with 1 Tablespoon cooking oil and leave to come to room temperature while you cook the fritters.

Heat a frying-pan over a moderate heat and add enough oil to give a 5-mm depth. Give the plantain fritter mixture a stir, then drop spoonfuls of it into the hot pan (you want 8 fritters) and cook for 2 minutes or so, before flipping over carefully and cooking on the other side until golden. Keep warm on a plate in an oven set to around 100°C. Once all of the fritters are cooked it’s time to cook the scallops. Tip the excess oil out, wipe the pan with kitchen paper and put back on the heat, turning it to medium-high. Place the scallops in and cook for 1 minute, then flip over and cook for another minute - at which point the scallops will be done. Smaller scallops need less cooking - and be careful not to overcook as they become quite rubbery in texture.

To Serve

Place two fritters on warmed plates, sit a scallop atop each, then spoon the salsa over and sprinkle the coriander leaves on top.