Fresh and delicate flavours abound in this dish of seared scallops on a Vietnamese pomelo salad. The sweet scallops and the sour and salty citrus salad was a perfect combination.
You will find several variations on the pomelo salad on delectabilia. Pomelo salad wrapped in prosciutto is also a great appetiser. The difference with this one is the pickling of the carrot, red pepper, and chilli. That step adds a sour note to offset the sweetness of the pomelo and scallops. Combined, they highlight the delicate flavour of the scallops without overwhelming them.
Scallops cook quickly and are very easy to overcook. Make sure your pan is very hot, with just a smear of oil. One minute on the top side and another 30 seconds on the bottom should give a nice seared look without overcooking the inside.
While mild in flavour, crispy fried shallots add a satisfying crunch and mouthfeel to this Vietnamese pomelo salad dish. You can buy crispy fried shallots in most Asian markets or on Amazon. This recipe has instructions on making them yourself, thanks in turn to Epicurious. If making them yourself, you will need a deep-fry thermometer as it is important to have the oil at just the right temperature.
Seared scallops on a Vietnamese pomelo salad
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1/4 cup raw sugar
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 carrot , peeled and julienned
- 1 small red pepper , peeled and julienned
- 1 mild chili , peeled and cut into fine shreds
- 1 medium pomelo , or 1/2 large pomelo
- 1/4 cup mint or basil leaves , chopped
- 1/4 cup pinenuts
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped or mashed
- 1 red Thai chilli finely chopped
- 1 cup finely diced shallots
- 1 cup canola or grape seed oil
- 12 large scallops (3 per person)
- A drizzle of canola or grape seed oil (or butter)
- Combine fish sauce, lime juice, water, sugar, garlic and chile in a small bowl. Shake to combine and dissolve the sugar.
- Prepare the pickling solution by combining the salt, sugar, vinegar, and water in a large bowl. Stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved.
- Add the julienned carrot, red pepper, and chilli to the pickling solution. Let sit for one hour or so.
- Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Toast the pinenuts.
- Break up the pomelo segments.
- Toss together the pomelo, pickled carrots and peppers, basil or mint, pinenuts, and half the dressing and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate or bowl, leaving any liquid behind.
- Bring the oil up to 135 degC and fry the diced shallots until a light golden brown, around 8 minutes.
- Remove the shallots from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
- Bring the oil up to 180 degC and refry the shallots for a couple of seconds then drain again on paper towels.
- Add the drizzle of oil to a heavy based pan and bring to a high heat.
- Sear the scallops for 1 minute on the top side or until nicely seared. Then flip and cook another 30 seconds.
- Add half the dressing to the pomelo salad and toss.
- Plate a layer of pomelo salad.
- Sprinkle some crispy shallots.
- Add the seared scallops and drizzle with some more dressing.
- Sprinkle a few salmon eggs to add another taste and texture dimension.