Scallops plus asparagus and Thai flavors was all I needed to know. I saw this dish in the food section on The New York Times site last week, and it immediately became a part of our weekend dining plans. With the current fling I’m having with asparagus and scallops’ unwavering appeal, this meal was sure to be a hit. That being said, I made some minor changes to the suggested preparations. First, Kurt and I both prefer for large scallops to be seared. While we agree on that point, Kurt also feels that sauce should never cover scallops once they’re seared because tampering with that seared bit of crust on the surface should be illegal. So, rather than cooking the scallops in the sauce as was recommended, I seared them separately and set them on top of the asparagus and sauce for serving. Another change I made was simply due to laziness. I didn’t feel the need to make fish stock for a mere one-third cup, so I used water and added a little fish sauce instead. Last, since I have a cute, little kaffir lime tree growing in a container on my front porch, I grabbed a few leaves from it to slice thinly for garnishing.
I made the curry paste mostly as directed by the recipe. Shallots, cores of lemon grass bulbs, ginger, garlic, anchovy paste, coriander, lime juice, and lime zest were mixed in a food processor. Oil was heated in a saute pan, and the curry paste was added. Asparagus, and I used more than suggested because I couldn’t help myself, was cut into small pieces and added to the curry paste. Then, I added water and fish sauce instead of fish stock, more coconut milk than suggested because I used more asparagus than suggested, and sriracha, and allowed the asparagus and sauce to simmer. Meanwhile, I seared the scallops in a separate pan, and all the while jasmine rice was steaming. The rice was served on the side, and the scallops were set on top of the asparagus and sauce making sure that nothing sauce-like came in contact with the top of the scallops.
The spiciness level can be determined by the amount of sriracha added, and I boosted it just a bit, but I didn’t want to overshadow the flavor of the scallops. The simple curry paste was a breeze to make, and I’m now certain I need a mortar and pestle. It was such a small amount to pulverize, it took longer to make the paste in a small food processor, with several stops to stir, than it would have by hand. Still, it made a flavorful sauce for this fresh, spring-like dish.