Scallops with Black Bean Sauce stir-fries slices of large Sea Scallop with Zucchini, fresh Basil, and umami-rich Chinese Salted Black Beans.
I first made this dish after trying the Scallop Xào Tuong at the Café Indochine in Ottawa. That dish was very nice but it was supposed to contain salted black bean and ended up being served without them. That was definitely a disappointment because I was expecting them, and because they pair very well with all sorts of seafood.
The Recipe Card below specifically calls for Chinese Salted Black Beans. You can, of course use a commercially prepared Black Bean Sauce if you like but, as I mention in my introduction the ingredient, I have yet to find one that I thought was worth the money. The real thing is cheap and very easy to use.
Chicken stock in what is primarily a seafood dish will strike some Westerners as odd but it is regularly done in Chinese cookery. Use a canned variety if it suits you but a Basic Chinese Chicken Stock will make the dish that much better.
First, stir the soy sauce into the scallops and, in a separate bowl, toss the eggplant with the salt. Set both of these aside for at least 15 minutes.
Now, mix together the sugar, Shaoxing wine and black beans and, when the beans are softened somewhat, coarsely mash them with a fork, leaving plenty of large fragments.
Finally, mix the teaspoon of cornstarch with enough water to make a smooth paste and then stir it into the stock along with the oyster sauce.
When you are ready to cook, toss the scallops with just enough corn-starch to coat them lightly. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over high heat and then, working in batches, quickly sear the scallop slices on both sides, removing them to a pan for the time being.
Next, rinse the eggplant chunks in just a little water to remove excess salt and then pat dry. As with the scallops, dust the pieces lightly with cornstarch and briefly pan fry until the white flesh is just starting to turn golden. Set aside for the moment.
To finish, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wok or other deep pan over high heat and then add the garlic. When the garlic is just starting to brown slightly, add the bell pepper and sauté until softened.
Add the black bean mixture and, after a few seconds, stir in the scallops and eggplant, tossing until they are heated through.
Finally, add the stock mixture, stir until the sauce thickens and then add the basil leaves. As soon as these wilt, plate and serve hot.
Your Recipe Card:
Scallops with Black Bean Sauce
- 3/4 lb. large Sea Scallops thinly sliced horizontally;
- 2 cups Eggplant cut in small chunks with skin attached;
- ½ cup Red Bell Pepper cut into small bite sized pieces;
- 1 small handful of Basil coarsely chopped if the leaves are very large;
- 2 tbsp. Chinese Salted Black Beans;
- 3 cloves Garlic sliced;
- 1 tbsp. Sugar;
- 3 tbsp. Shaoxing Wine;
- ½ cup Chicken Stock;
- 1 tbsp. Oyster Sauce;
- 1 tsp. Light Soy Sauce;
- 1 tsp. Salt;
- 1 tsp. Cornstarch plus extra for dusting;
- Stir the soy sauce into the scallops and, in a separate bowl, toss the eggplant with the salt. Set both of these aside for at least 15 minutes.
- Toss the Scallops with cornstarch, quickly pan-fry over medium heat until lightly browned, and set aside.
- Rinse the eggplant pieces with water to remove excess salt and pat dry.
- Toss the Eggplant with cornstarch, quickly pan-fry over medium heat until nicely golden, and set aside.
- Turn the heat to high, add a couple of tablespoons of oil and briefly fry the garlic until it is just starting to turn brown.
- Add the peppers and saute until softened slightly, then add the Black bean mixture.
- Stir for a moment or so and then add the scallops and the eggplant, tossing until they are heated through.
- Add the sauce mix and when it thickens, str in the Bails. When the Basil wilts, plate and serve.