This way of serving Scallops or various other shellfish for that matter is extremely popular throughout Vietnam. I first had my grilled seafood in the shell experience in the Nam Dinh province just a few hours from Hanoi by the coast. The single most important thing when cooking something like this is to first source fresh shellfish or in this case scallops then the rest of the dish is a walk in the park. The brilliance of a dish like this is its simplicity whilst combining that with various textures and balance. Traditionally this type of street food would be cooked over charcoal, however, we can replicate all of those aromas still by making this at home. With all that said let’s “dive” into this recipe!
1. Let’s begin by preparing some scallops. A few things to look out for when purchasing fresh scallops is firstly a pleasant sea aroma. As for the shells they should be undamaged and with a gentle tap they should close indicating that they are live and fresh. To prepare use an ordinary table knife then run the knife along the top of the flat side of the shell going inside of scallop shell. Keep the knife at a 45° angle facing upwards to prevent slicing into the scallop and then once you work your way down to the bottom the scallop shell will gently pop itself open.
5. Now to add some texture and to give the scallops that classic fried shallot flavour profile. Roast approximately 50g of peanuts in a dry pan until nicely toasted then roughly break down the peanuts in a pestle and mortar or simply run through them with a knife. Were after a little texture here so roughly ground is perfect. For the shallots, add 50mls of cooking oil to a small saucepan then finely slice and add the shallots. Fry on a medium heat until golden brown whilst stirring constantly as soon as the shallots begin to become golden. As soon as the shallots are ready pass through a fine sieve saving the cooking oil we used to fry them. Place the fried shallots onto a tray lined with kitchen paper and lightly season with sea salt. As for the oil that we saved we will use this to also make the spring onion oil.
Spring Onion Oil
6. Just before we move onto cooking the scallops we can now prepare another key flavour profile to the scallops a spring onion oil. Start by mincing 5g of ginger then finely slice a bunch of washed green onions. Next, place the 50mls of cooking oil we saved from frying the shallots back into a saucepan and turn the heat up to medium. Add the minced ginger first and fry for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Now add the sliced spring onions and remove off from the heat. Mix well then pour the oil into a bowl. Season with 2 tbsp of fish sauce for some extra umami then allow the spring onion to cool.
7. All that’s left to do now is to cook the scallops and to serve, when cooking scallops we are going to need a smoking hot pan and just a touch of oil. Place a pan onto a high heat first then lightly season the scallops with a touch of flakey sea salt. When the pan begins to smoke add a small amount of cooking oil then carefully lay the scallops into the pan. Sear on one side for 45 seconds then flip the scallops over and sear for an additional 30 seconds. When cooked and nicely seared brush the scallops with some of the spring onion oil made earlier and leave to rest for 1-2 minutes.
8. This final step is optional but to finish the scallops I wanted to try and recreate those charred seafood/spring onion aromas. In the cleaned scallop shell add some of the spring onion oil and a small amount of the cooked rice noodles. Using a pair of tongs pick up the shell and briefly heat over a naked flame or using a salamander until the oil starts to sizzle and become aromatic. This will also reheat the noodles then when ready all that’s left to do is to serve.
9. To serve we want to build up these scallop shells with various flavours and textures. Over the rice noodles, drizzle with a touch spring onion oil and a few fried shallots. Lay around 3 scallop halves per portion onto of the rice noodles then finish with a touch more spring onion oil, fried shallots, some toasted peanuts and a few optional sliced Birdseye chillies for some heat. Next work out how your going to eat this thing and nourish…
As for what other shellfish you could use then oysters, muscles or clams would also work perfectly for this recipe. Unlike roasting the scallops though I would add the shellfish into the shells and grill under a salamander before layering the rice noodles oil etc…Have fun with this recipe and I’m sure you’re going to love it! Peace…