Scallops, asparagus and baby aubergine chunks stir fried one after the other, coated in spicy sweet sauce – it’s important to cook the ingredients separately but you use just one pan.
Accidental scallop stir-fry
This scallops recipe came about by accident and those are the dishes and recipes I like the best. It’s a bit of a fussy dish because you need to stir fry all the ingredients separately, but trust me – if you bung everything to the wok at once, the aubergine will be raw, the asparagus tough and the scallops rubbery. This works perfectly because every element is cooked to its best.
It came about by accident, because I was going to sear the scallops in a pan and sit them on top of stir fried, spiced up vegetables. And I just couldn’t be bothered with two separate pans to wash up.
Cook them one by one
So it’s a compromise of a dish as well: using just one pan for it but hang on, you’re going to have to use it separately for the three ingredients.
I’m letting you off the hook with the courgettes as they are less important here. They will cook with aubergines unless you’re really pernickety and want to cook them separately too, or skip them altogether which is perfectly all right either way.
It may sound like a complicated process but it isn't. In a classic stir-fries you should cook the meat first, remove it from the wok and follow with vegetables. This is similar only you start by cooking aubergines and courgettes. Once they are out of the wok, the asparagus comes in and the third step is searing scallops because they need the shortest time in the wok.
The wok might well look as it's getting more and more burnt, but fear not: once the sauce is added, all the (tasty) burnt bits will dissolve.
How to prepare aubergines
A word about aubergines here: the myth that they need salting prior to cooking isn’t quite defunct.
Nowadays aubergines aren’t as bitter as they used to be, which had to be rid of by salting, but they will cook quicker if you sprinkle the slices with salt and wipe dry after a few minutes. Plus they really need to be cooked through which will take some time, otherwise the vegetable is no good and actually pretty disgusting.
Aubergines, for this dish and any others are ideally evenly browned on all sides. As a minimum you need to at least ensure there are no white raw bits visible on the aubergine dice.
Small frozen scallops for the stir-fry
The scallops used here should be the smaller, cheaper queen variety, preferably the frozen ones actually. This isn’t a dish to savour each plump, horribly expensive mollusc seared in pure butter and presented on a half shell. This is an easy stir fry – and I’m not going to argue which is a better dish. You just need a different option sometimes.
Seasonal note: when asparagus are out of season, you can use green beans or tenderstem broccoli, sliced thinly lengthwise.