Thai-style Scallop Salad

This is from The Hairy Bikers, but I used more easily-sourced ingredients. Thai food’s glory is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, bitter, hot, and sour – which is a good rule of thumb for most savoury recipes, by the way.

I’ve changed their baby squid into scallops, which can be found in most British supermarkets. (See the footnotes for cheaper, & vegan, options.)

Serves: 4 as a starter or 2 as main portion

Preparation Tip – If you prep all the ingredients in advance, this salad can be cooked and on the table in 5 minutes.

For the dressing:

  • 1 hot red chilli (5″ / 13cm long), finely sliced – include seeds & membrane or not to your taste
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed, and chopped roughly
  • 2 tablespoons molasses sugar (dark muscavado or soft dark brown sugar are fine substitutes)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or, 2 tsp sea salt flakes)
  • 1 lime: 1/2 of juice only; save the other 1/2 for serving

For the salad:

  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed, and chopped finely
  • 1 small bunch of chives, sliced into 1″ lengths
  • 4-6 spring onions, dark green ends only, sliced on the diagonal into 1/2″ lengths
  • 1/4 of a red onion, chopped very finely (optional)
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 of a long cucumber: sliced lengthways, seeds scooped out and thickly sliced
  • 1 large handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped or ripped roughly (no stems)
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped or ripped roughly (no stems)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (if you don’t have this you can use 3 Tbsp veg oil)
  • A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root, peeled, and finely sliced
  • 4 large King scallops, with orange roe if possible (see footnotes for cheaper, and vegan, options)
  • White sesame seeds, to garnish
  • Peanuts, skinned and unsalted; roughly chopped, to garnish
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice, to garnish (see dressing ingredients)


  • A chopping board and sharp knife
  • A pestle and mortar (or, a food processor)
  • 1 large and 1 medium mixing bowls; plus 4 small bowls or plates to serve
  • A large, deep frying pan (or wok)

Make the Dressing:

  1. Grind all ingredients in a mortar and pestle until combined (or, whizz briefly in a food processor), and transfer to a medium bowl.

Make the Salad:

  1. Take everything from garlic to basil and toss together in a large bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in your pan until smoking hot. Fry the ginger for about 15 seconds, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the scallops and fry for no more than 2 minutes, stirring/flipping all the while, until they’re coloured slightly golden. Take care, as the hot oil will spit.
  4. Take the pan off the hob. Pour all the contents into the dressing bowl; toss well, then tip the whole lot over the salad ingredients in the other bowl.
  5. Toss everything together and put into bowls/onto plates to serve. Ensure each starter serving has one scallop on top (2 for each main serving), and slice each horizontally. Scatter over sesame seeds and peanuts, with a quick squeeze of lime juice over each serving. Serve immediately.

Cheaper Option
I will readily admit that King scallops are expensive. Even the smaller Queenies are pretty dear. A perfectly suitable substitute for much less money are 250g frozen cooked prawns, defrosted (put them in a sieve and run cold water over them).

Flash-fry the ginger in the same amount of oil for about 2 minutes until crispy and browned; then add all the pan contents along with the drained, defrosted prawns to the dressing bowl as per Step 4. Toss lightly before adding to the salad bowl and continue with Step 5.

Move a few prawns to the top of each serving after plating.

Vegan Option with No Cooking
You don’t need shellfish to make this salad.
If you opt for making it completely vegan, and without cooking, just add the oils and finely sliced fresh ginger to the the dressing ingredients, and grind/whizz.
When making the salad this way, I reverse the oil proportions (2 Tbsp sesame + 1 Tbsp veg); use 2 tsp sea salt instead of fish sauce for the salt balance; and add pumpkin seeds for extra crunch and goodness.
Serve on top of roughly torn lettuce leaves (romaine, iceberg, little gem, etc).


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