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A Little Fusion Makes for Fun Libations and a Twist on Scallops

October 17, 2009

I thank my lucky stars that my childhood was spent roaming the globe with my family. I think living in different countries and visiting different countries gives you a broader global perspective, and broadens your mind as well as your palate.

As a curious child, I’ve never been afraid of trying different foods during my childhood living in Thailand and Singapore: fish bladder soup, blood clams, periwinkle snails, ant larvae, water bugs, deep fried candied land crab, blood sausage, bitter melon, the dreaded durian (probably the most intensely aromatic fruit you’ll ever encounter), rambutan, mangosteen, dragon fruit, and the list goes on.

Now that we live in the Pacific Northwest, which is very Pacific Rim oriented, even in our small hamlet of Salem we can find many of the Asian ingredients  that I remember as a child. So I find myself occasionally trying to figure out how to take Thai or Asian techniques or ingredients and fuse them with what’s available here in Oregon.

One of my creative hits has been my signature Lychee Martini. One of my friends, who shall remain nameless to protect her identity, who professes not to like martinis tried one…and another…and another and before she knew it she was the life of the party.

I’m not a big martini guy myself — but I do love holding a stylish martini glass so I was trying to come up with something drinkable that I would like, and I do love lychees. My lychee invention is so easy to make…and sooo bad for you because it will tempt you to drink too much because it’s so delicious.

Another one of my recent creative hits is scallops with a saffron sauce, but with an Asian twist of serving it with steamed white jasmine rice. If you’re really adventurous, ditch the saffron for some two tablespoons of green Thai curry paste (sold in cans at Asian food stores). It will definitely kick this up several notches.

For those of you still laboring the old fashioned way to cook white long-grain rice by boiling, draining and simmering over low heat, my advice is to invest in an automatic rice cooker. They are nearly foolproof. Most will have a measure on the inside of the cooker so you know how much water to use with the appropriate amount of rice: 2 cups rice, fill to number 2 level — you get the idea. Very easy. Then turn on the cooker and go about your business prepping the rest of your meal. These automatic rice cookers can be found at most Asian grocery stores, ours was purchased at a considerable discount from Williams Sonoma. Obviously the ones you’ll find at Asian grocery stores will be at a much lower price point. (Unless you know someone who works at a Williams Sonoma who can use their employee discount to get you one.) (Note from Charles: Vic is alluding to a time when I taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma along with part time sales and received generous discounts and I was able to score a deluxe automatic rice cooker that was in clearance.)

Lychee Martini

Lychee Martini

Lychee Martini

  1. A can of lychees packed in syrup
  2. Vodka
  3. Cocktail picks
  • In a shaker, combine 2 parts of vodka for 1 part of syrup from the lychee can and ice. Typical martini glass will take 4 oz of vodka and 2 oz of lychee syrup.
  • Shake well until thoroughly chilled.
  • Pour into martini glass and garnish with a lychee or two on a cocktail pick.

Bay Scallops with White Wine Saffron Sauce over Rice

Bay Scallops with White Wine Saffron Sauce over Rice

Bay Scallops in Saffron Sauce

  1. 1 lb. bay scallops
  2. 2 pints of heavy cream
  3. two or three pinches of saffron. (This stuff is expensive!)
  4. 2 medium sized shalots finely chopped
  5. 2 cups frozen peas
  6. 2 cups peeled baby carrots sliced into 1/2 inch discs
  7. chopped parsley or scallions for garnish
  8. cooked long-grain Thai jasmine rice ( for enough to serve 3 people I usually start out with 2 cups of uncooked rice. Once cooked it almost doubles.)
  9. 3 tbsp. oil or butter
  10. 2 tbsp. dry white wine
  11. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Heat oil or butter in a saucepan.
  • Add shalots and saute until translucent over medium heat.
  • Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. From this point on stir frequently and keep heat low.
  • Add carrots and cook until tender.
  • Add saffron.
  • Add white wine and peas. Stir until sauce starts to simmer again.
  • Add scallops and raise heat to medium, stirring frequently, for about 4 or 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove from heat and serve on individual plates over steamed rice, garnished with chopped parsley or scallions.


— Vic

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynn D. permalink
    October 18, 2009 11:10 am

    I grow my own saffron right here in Salem! It’s a fall blooming crocus that has multiplied rapidly in the 3 0r 4 years since I planted it. As a matter of fact I got my first couple of blooms this morning and must go out and harvest it. The scallops look great.

    • charlesprice permalink*
      October 18, 2009 11:31 am

      Lynn, Vic will be delighted to hear this. Can we learn more? Charles

  2. Lynn D. permalink
    October 18, 2009 1:56 pm

    I recommend ordering bulbs from Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany or White Flower Farm out east. The bulbs are shipped in September and will bloom in October. When my bulbs become dormant in early summer I’ll gladly give you a half-dozen bulbs. I also grow and dry my own tea (camellia sinensis) which is just now starting to bloom.

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