Grilled Scallops with Sweet Chilli Sauce & Crème Fraîche

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Appears in

The Sugar Club Cookbook

By Peter Gordon

Published 1997

  • About

This dish – one of my all-time favourites – is now synonymous with the London Sugar Club. I first put it on the menu in July 1995, and it has only come off when storms prevented divers collecting scallops. It’s also the dish that most reviewers choose when they visit! The crème fraîche softens the strong flavours of the sauce, which in turn cut through the richness of the scallops. The chilli sauce recipe makes more than you need, so keep the surplus in the fridge for other dishes.


  • 12 large diver-caught scallops, trimmed
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Watercress leaves
  • ½ cup crème fraîche

Sweet Chilli Sauce

  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 large red chillies, stems removed
  • 3 thumbs of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 thumb of galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 lime leaves
  • 3 lemon-grass stems; remove the two outside leaves, discard the top third of the stem and finely slice the remainder
  • 1 cup fresh coriander leaves
  • cups caster sugar
  • 100ml (5fl oz) cider vinegar
  • 50ml (fl oz) Asian fish sauce
  • 50ml (fl oz) tamari


Put the first seven ingredients of the chilli sauce in a food processer and purée to a coarse paste. Put the sugar in a saucepan with 4 tablespoons of water and place on a moderate heat, stirring well until the sugar dissolves. When it has, remove the spoon and turn the heat up to full. Boil for 5—8 minutes and do not stir until it has turned a dark caramel colour (but don’t allow it to burn). Now stir in the paste, bring the sauce back to the boil and add the last three ingredients. Return to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Leave it to cool before eating.

Lightly oil the scallops with sesame oil and season, then grill each side on a char-grill, overhead grill or skillet for 90 seconds. Sit them on a bed of watercress, put a dollop of crème fraîche on top and drizzle generously with sweet chilli sauce.