Head Chef Fai Choi of Aulis Shares His Top 5 Ways to Serve Scallop
"Scallop is a highly delicious and versatile ingredient and is always present in my kitchen. In Hong Kong, we have the privilege to get fresh scallops from Japan all year round and apparently they are one of the best you can get around the world," Aulis' Head Chef Fai Choi tells us. Here are his top five ways to cook the ingredient.
To celebrate such high-quality produce, one of the many ways to use it would be just to serve it raw. Scallop is very delicate so my approach is to use something light to bring out its umami and sweetness, rather than pairing it with strong garnish. I suggest seasoning it with sea salt, then serving it with a clean chilled broth, such as tomato essence, to give a refreshing fruity taste. Also green apple and herbs for extra freshness, and a tiny amount of horseradish to make it more exciting.
The most common way to cook a scallop is definitely roasting. By searing both sides of the scallop on high heat, we create a nice caramelisation and that’s where the flavour comes from. Roasting scallop may sound scary and difficult, but the most crucial step actually happens before putting the scallop in a pan. I always pat dry the scallop with a paper towel before cooking it. This helps remove moisture on its surface and thus creates a nice crust.
One cooking method that we often overlook in Western cooking is steaming. When you get top quality scallop, steaming it really does showcase how flavourful it can be. To avoid overcooking, I always stop when its centre is still raw and let the residue heat to finish cooking it.
An unusual way to prepare scallop is to use its side muscle, aka abductor muscle, to make a garum. Garum is an ancient fermented fish sauce and here we can simply substitute fish with scallop. Just let it ferment and sit on the counter for at least two months and use the liquid as a replacement of soy sauce or fish sauce.
Another way to utilise scallop is to dry its roe, the orange part that we often throw away. It’s a long process that requires curing in salt and dehydrating for a total of a week. This concentrates its flavour and really intensifies and preserves the umami of scallop. You can grate it over a bowl of pasta and that will certainly bring your dish to the next level.
All images courtesy of Aulis.
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