Spicy Scallops with Cashews

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients – most of them can be found in your pantry. The Asian ingredients can be found in a well-stocked supermarket or specialty foods store. If you have to buy them just for this dish, they keep indefinitely and you’ll find lots of ways to use them in everyday cooking. The versatile sauce can be used with shrimp and a finishing or basting sauce for grilled scallops, shrimp, or chicken. It can be prepared right before you cook or hours ahead, which makes it a sure bet when you don’t have a lot of time.

Serves 6.

3 tablespoons dry sherry
⅓ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
¾ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice or red wine vinegar
¾ to 1 teaspoon Vietnamese chili paste

1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1½ teaspoons cold water

⅔ to 1 cup roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
½ bunch scallions, cut into julienne
¾ teaspoons grated orange peel

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2¾ to 3 pounds sea scallops, patted dry with a towel
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh gingerroot

1. Place the sherry, ketchup, oyster sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and chili paste into a small mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Place the cornstarch and water in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Place the cashews, scallions, and orange peel in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

4. Place a large skillet over a medium-high heat and, when it is hot add the vegetable oil. Add the scallops, garlic, and gingerroot. Cook, gently turning until the scallops are browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add the sherry mixture and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a heated platter and serve immediately. Garnish with the cashews, scallions, and orange.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)