Cuisine Fiend

scallop and asparagus stir fry

Mon, 29 June, 2020


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.

scallop asparagus and aubergine stir fry

This came about by accident – those are the dishes and recipes I like the best. It’s a bit of a fussy dish because you need to 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.

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.

yu xian aubergine and scallops

So it’s a compromise of a dish as well – just one pan but hang on, you’re gonna 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.

A word about aubergines though: the myth that they need salting prior to cooking isn’t quite defunct. Nowadays aubergines aren’t bitter 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, otherwise no good and pretty disgusting. Ideally evenly browned on all sides, you need to at least ensure there are no white raw bits visible on the aubergine dice.

scallop stir fry with asparagus

And 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 a stir fry – and I’m not going to argue which is a better dish. You just need a different option sometimes.

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

scallop 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 ½ cup water
  • For the stir fry:
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 300g (10 oz.) baby aubergines, diced
  • 1 medium courgette, diced
  • 150g (5 oz.) asparagus, stems chopped and halved lengthwise, if thick
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 200g (6 oz.) queen scallops, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. slivered pistachios for garnish (optional)


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

2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a wok or a 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.

aubergines and courgettes

3. 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 veg.

stir fry asparagus

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

stir frying scallops

5. 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.

6. Return the vegetables to the wok and stir fry to coat in the sauce and heat up. Stir in the scallops.

scallop stir fry

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

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