This is a complex yet elegant dish. To simplify it, you can leave out the chile jam and mix together a little sweet chile sauce, sunflower oil , Thai fish sauce, lime juice, and cilantro, using this to dress the scallops and leaves. Still, we would make the jam: it’s completely addictive. Scully’s mother and nine aunties (yes, all on his mother’s side!) all have their own versions, each placing a different emphasis on the sour, spicy, sweet, and salty levels. Scully’s order of preference, having played around with all the family recipes and consulted the authority on Thai cooking that is David Thomson, is sweet then sour then salty then spicy.
The recipe makes enough to fill a medium jar (14 ounces/400 ml), but you can double the recipe if you like to keep a larger jar in the fridge. It will last for a month or more and is really versatile: as delicious with cold meat as it is spread in a cheese sandwich or spooned alongside some plain rice. Two disclaimers: first, don’t be put off by the smell of the dried shrimp in the pan. It’s not the ingredient’s strongest selling point, we know, but the resulting taste more than makes up for it. Second, sorry about all the garlic peeling and, no, twenty-four cloves is not a typo!
Reprinted with permission from NOPI by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
For the chile jam:
- 2 Cups sunflower oil
- 30 Thai (red) shallots, thinly sliced
- 24 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/3 Ounce long dried red chiles, seeded
- 1 3/4 Ounce dried shrimp, rinsed and patted dry very well
- 3 1/2 Ounces palm sugar, coarsely grated if starting with a block
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/3 Cup tamarind pulp water
For the daikon:
- 2/3 Cups rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons superfine sugar
- 2 Teaspoons pink peppercorns
- 3 whole cloves of garlic, gently crushed
- 1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 daikon, peeled, and julienned
- Course sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, very thinly sliced lengthwise and soaked in water with a teaspoon lemon juice
- 6 round red radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 Ounce red baby chard leaves
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 12 jumbo sea scallops
For the chile jam:
To make the jam, pour the sunflower oil into a large saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and fry gently for 6 to 7 minutes, until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the shallots and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain while you continue frying. Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate and add the galangal and chiles to the pan. Fry for just a minute, then remove. Finish with the shrimp: these will need just 30 seconds in the oil before being removed. Set everything aside to cool, then transfer to a food processor. Add 6 tablespoons/90 ml of the frying oil and blitz well until a smooth paste is formed. Return the paste to a medium saucepan along with the sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind water. Place over low heat and cool for about 15 minutes, stirring form time to time, until a jam-like consistency is formed. Don't be alarmed by the amount of oil in the jam: it works on the plate, soaked up by the scallops, and also helps give the jam a long shelf life. Cool before storing in a jar in the fridge.
For the daikon:
To pickle the daikon, place the rice vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, cloves, and chile in a medium saucepan with 3/4 cup/200 ml of water and 2 teaspoons of salt. Place over medium heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Add the daikon and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours or, preferably overnight.
Just before you are ready to serve, drain the apple slices, pat them dry, and place them in a large bowl. Drain the daikon and spices, discarding the liquid, and add both to the apple along with the radishes, chard, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Mix gently and set aside.
Put the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan and place over high heat. Mix the scallops in a small bowl with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. When the pan is hot, add the scallops and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, turning once halfway through, until golden on both sides and starting to caramelize. Remove from the pan and serve at once, with the salad and a teaspoon of chile jam alongside.