One of my favorite dishes in Taiwan was ‘3 cup’ scallops. The name refers to the sauce, which includes equal amounts of soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. But the star of the dish is the Taiwanese basil, which is known outside of Taiwan as Thai Basil. This type of basil has an anise or licorice type of flavor and is not the same as regular (Italian) basil. It is also not the same as Thai holy basil. The Taiwanese basil works very well with the scallops and the sauce is delicious. The hardest part may be to find the Thai basil. Otherwise, preparing this dish is pretty straightforward and quick.
You may have noticed a lot of Taiwanese recipes lately. We’ve really fallen in love with Taiwanese food and I can’t wait to go back, if only for the food.
For 2 servings
300 grams (.66 lb) sea scallops
a generous handful of Thai basil leaves (about 40 grams, 1.4 oz)
2 Tbsp shaoxing rice wine
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used dark soy sauce here, but light soy sauce or a mixture would also work)
1 shallot or scallion/green onion, thinly sliced
1 red chilli pepper (or more or less to taste), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 cm (2″) of ginger, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar, optional
2 Tbsp cooking oil
When we had this in Taiwan the scallops were pretty small and they used whole scallops. The scallops I used here were large, so I cut them into halves or quarters.
In any case, pat the scallops dry with paper towels.
Combine the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil (and sugar, if using) in a bowl.
Take the basil leaves off the stems and discard the stems. Prepare the ginger, shallots/scallions, chilli, and garlic.
I used a carbon steel frying pan because it works better on my induction hob than a wok. Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and add the ginger, shallot/scallions, and chilli.
Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, and stir fry for 30 seconds longer. The garlic is added later to make sure it won’t brown, as that would make it bitter.
Now add the scallops and continue to stir fry.
As soon as the scallops have some color on them (this may not be feasible if they are not fresh, so make sure not to overcook them), add the sauce.
Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce has reduced a bit and the scallops are barely cooked through. Do not overcook the scallops, as they will become tough and rubbery.
Turn off the heat and add the basil.
Stir until the basil has just wilted.
Serve at once.
As with many similar dishes, this is great with a dry gewurztraminer from Alto Adige or Alsace.
This white asparagus and goat cheese soup is elegant, delicious, and ridiculously simple. It requires only two ingredients (if you don’t count water, salt and pepper, and the parsley that I used for garnish) and not much skill to prepare.