Scallop Xào Tuong at the Café Indochine in Ottawa
The very pretty dish you see pictured above was served to me at the now defunct Café Indochine in Ottawa. The place got some rather mixed reviews but I ate there a couple of times and found the service and the food to be quite good overall. Their Scallop Xào Tuong , which I had for lunch one day, turned out to be well prepared, and was quite delicious, but it was also a bit disappointing in one regard.
The dish appeared on the menu described as Scallop, Zucchini and Eggplant Sautéed in Ginger and Black Bean Sauce. It certainly did come with all the promised main ingredients, but the sauce, although generous with ginger, was not quite as advertised as there was nothing like a Black Bean, or hint of a Black Bean to be seen or tasted.
I am not widely familiar with Vietnamese cuisine beyond a few famous preparations, but I had to look up ‘Xào Tuong’, and it appears that this refers to what I know as Chinese Salted Black Beans. Now, I had rather anticipated that this was what was meant by ‘Black Bean Sauce’ in the menu description, as I make sauces using this fermented product frequently. I was accordingly looking forward to the taste and was thus a bit disappointed by their absence.
Now I should say that in all other respects this dish was excellent. In addition to the ingredients specified on the menu, the dish also came with Snow Pea, Onion, and Red and Green peppers, with steamed rice being served in a bowl separately. They restaurant was also very generous with the little Bay Scallops, which can be a bit pricey, and they were fresh, sweet, and very tender.
The sauce in which all these lovely ingredients were actually cooked was slightly sweet and reminded me a bit of the Chinese versions of ‘Satay Sauce’ you get in some restaurants. It was very nice, but my mouth was already for the salty, umami flavors of a Black Bean Sauce and so the sauce I was served was just a bit less enjoyable than it might have been. Still, all being said, this was a lovely lunch.