Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thai Sea Scallops in a Rich Red Curry Sauce

This thai recipe for scallops is fragrant, pleasantly spicy, and succulent. Scallops are marinated and stir-fried in an easy red curry that also provides a dipping sauce (or you can serve these scallops "floating" amid the red curry). Excellent for entertaining or simply as an everyday treat. Scallops are available in various sizes all year around, which makes them a nice treat in the winter. And this scallop recipe is easy - ready to eat in less than 30 minutes!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 8-10 medium to large sea scallops (Serves 2 for a main entree, 4-8 as an appetizer), OR 20 bay scallops
  • handful fresh coriander
  • 1-2 whole star anise, plus more for garnish
  • wedges of fresh lime or lemon (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 shallot, OR 1/4 cup purple onion, chopped
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal, OR ginger, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper, OR substitute black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce (available at Asian stores)
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1-2 tsp. Thai chili sauce (or substitute 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or crushed dried chili)
  • 1 tsp. shrimp paste (available by the jar at Asian stores)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk


  1. Place all curry paste ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process well to form a thick paste/sauce.
  2. Place 2-3 Tbsp. of the paste in a mixing bowl. Add the scallops and gently stir, so that scallops are covered with paste. Set aside.
  3. Drizzle 2-3 Tbsp. canola or other vegetable oil into a wok or frying pan set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the rest of the curry paste/sauce.
  4. Add the whole star anise and stir-fry the paste/sauce until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Gradually add 1/2 cup more coconut milk. Reduce heat slightly and simmer another minute or two, until the sauce is nicely blended and bubbling.
  5. Now add the scallops. Cook the scallops by stirring and turning them in the bubbling curry sauce.
  6. Check the inner flesh after 3 minutes to see if they are cooked. Tip: Scallops are done when ridges begin to form around the outside, and the inner flesh is no longer transparent. Look for flesh that is white and opaque. Large scallops may need up to 5 minutes to cook, while smaller ones may need only a minute or two.
  7. When scallops are cooked, remove from heat. Do a taste test. If not salty enough, add more fish sauce (1/2 Tbsp. at a time). If too sour for your taste, add 1-2 tsp. more brown sugar. If too spicy, add more coconut milk. If not spicy enough, add more chili flakes or a dollop of chili sauce.
  8. Transfer the scallops along with the sauce to a serving bowl. ENJOY!

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