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Scallops and asparagus stir fry

Updated: Tue, 30 April, 2024

Scallops, asparagus and baby aubergine chunks stir fried one after the other, then coated in spicy sweet sauce for a fabulous dish. It’s important to cook the ingredients separately but you use just one wok.

scallop and asparagus stir fry

Accidental scallop stir-fry

This scallop recipe came about by accident and those are the dishes and recipes I like the best.

It might seem 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 some scallops for dinner and serve them on top of stir fried vegetables. And I just couldn’t be bothered with two separate pans to wash up.

scallop, asparagus and aubergine stir fry

All one by one into the wok

It may sound like a complicated process but it isn't. In classic stir-fries you should cook the meat first, remove it from the wok and follow with vegetables and aromatics.

The first rule of the wok: don’t overcrowd it. If you’re cooking for more than two, tough: you’ll have to cook even individual vegetables in two batches each and decant them into an auxiliary bowl.

In this case I suggest you start by cooking aubergines and courgettes. They’ll take the longest, and once they are out of the wok, the asparagus comes in. The third step is searing scallops because they need the shortest time in the wok.

You can wipe the wok in between the batches but I wouldn’t bother. When it all returns and the sauce is added, all the (tasty) burnt bits will dissolve.

scallops with aubergines and asparagus

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 was the primary reason for salting them, but they will cook quicker and absorb less oil 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 half-cooked 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.

cooking aubergines

Small frozen scallops for the stir-fry

The scallops used here should be the smaller, cheaper queen variety, preferably 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.

cooking scallops

Seasonal note: when asparagus are out of season, you can use green beans or tenderstem broccoli, sliced thinly lengthwise.

cooking asparagus

Fish fragrant sauce

The sauce is inspired by yu xiang, ‘fish fragrant’ sauce which has no fish in it but bags of umami.

Toban djan, Chinese chilli bean paste is available from most supermarkets or online suppliers, and it’s such a great ingredient you won’t regret stocking up. The rest of the sauce is straightforward, and if you don’t have Shaoxing wine, use dry sherry.

Sprinkle the finished dish with chopped pistachios or salted peanuts.

scallops and aubergine stir frying

More scallop recipes

Pan fried scallops with pancetta and spiced Napa cabbage, the perfect starter. This recipe for scallops with chilli and pancetta makes an incredibly tasty dish, substitute bacon for pancetta if you wish.

Scallops thermidor, fat little molluscs baked in creamy fragrant Thermidor sauce on a bed of spelt and pancetta. Who needs lobster?

Scallops with chorizo and courgette. Scallops need to be just seared or flash fried and they go well with gutsy Spanish sausage, bacon or black pudding.

More easy stir fry recipes

Beef and asparagus stir fry with beef so tender you won’t believe it’s a cheaper cut. There’s a secret to a successful beef stir fry and you’d never guess what it is.

Chicken yu xiang, chicken breast pieces cooked in Sichuan ‘fragrant fish’ sauce which has seafood only in the name. With addition of dried cranberries for the sweetness and almonds for crunch.

Orange chicken, spicy, fresh and sweet, ready in twenty minutes including all the chopping, is an easy stir fry lighter and healthier than the orange chicken from American Chinese restaurants. Especially delicious if you top the dish with caramelised orange segments.

scallops and asparagus in fish fragrant sauce

Scallops and asparagus stir fry

Servings: 2Time: 30 minutes


  • For the sauce:
  • 30ml (1 tbsp) Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp chilli bean paste (toban djan)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • about 120ml (½ cup) water
  • For the stir fry:
  • 300g (10 oz.) aubergines
  • sea salt
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 150g (5 oz.) asparagus
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 200g (6 oz.) queen scallops, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp slivered pistachios for garnish (optional)


1. Mix the sauce ingredients in a cup except for water.

2. Top and tail the aubergines and cut them into chunky dice. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 10 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.

3. Top and tail the courgette and cut into similar size dice. Trim the asparagus and cut into 3cm/1 inch chunks, stems halved lengthwise, if thick.

4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok or a large frying pan and add the aubergines and courgette. Fry over high heat, tossing frequently, until cooked through and browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

5. Add the last tbsp of oil to the wok and the asparagus. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until they start to colour. Transfer to the bowl with the other vegetables.

6. Add the butter to the wok and when foaming, add the scallops. Toss them over high heat for half a minute, until seared. Transfer to a separate bowl to return them at the end.

7. Turn down the heat and pour in the sauce mix. Cook for a few seconds until it bubbles and thickens, then add the water to thin it out to sauce consistency.

8. Return the vegetables to the wok and stir fry to coat in the sauce and warm up. Stir in the scallops.

9. Serve sprinkled with pistachios, over plain rice or noodles.

Originally published: Mon, 29 June, 2020

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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