Chinese Chili Scallops

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Preparation info

  • Makes:


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Monday-to-Friday Cookbook

Monday-to-Friday Cookbook

By Michele Urvater

Published 1991

  • About

One day at work right before serving lunch, I opened a package of what I thought were chicken breasts defrosting in the refrigerator. Guess at my surprise when I found I had sea scallops instead. For reasons I can’t remember, the ingredients for the chicken wouldn’t work with scallops, so in a flash I came up with this recipe—devised with condiments I always have on hand.

Serve this with either steamed asparagus or a Stir-Fry of Summer Salad Vegetables or plainly boiled acini pepe or orzo. If you don’t have chili paste, use barbecue sauce instead but then omit the soy sauce.


  • 1 pound bay or sea scallops
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste with garlic
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable or Oriental sesame oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Remove the tough, rubbery appendage from the side of each sea scallop. In a bowl, combine the scallops, chili paste, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and five-spice powder.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Add the scallops with the seasonings and any juices. Sauté, stirring constantly, over high heat until the scallops are just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes for bay scallops; 3 to 4 minutes for sea scallops. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.
  3. Spoon the scallops and their juice directly from the skillet onto a plate and serve.

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