We’ve been driving all day to the beach in Virginia. It’s hot down here — 100 degrees some places on the mainland, and a relatively cool 92 degrees out at the beach. It’s too hot to spend a lot of time slaving over a hot stove, and besides, kids are chomping for some beachy takeout.
Because most of the takeout here consists of deep-fried seafoods, I figure we need to find another alternative on our first day at the beach.
“Chinese!” says one. “Yeah,” hollers the other. “Chinese!”
“At the beach?” I ask. “Really?”
I’m sort of relieved to discover that there is only one Chinese takeout place in this quiet little beach village, and we’ve learned that it isn’t particularly good.
But wait! I have another idea: How about if I whip up something yummy out of what we find here in town?
The idea is met with some skepticism.
Undaunted, I head out to the seafood market down the street from our little rental cottage to see what I can find, and what luck! Big, beautiful sea scallops, the size of ping-pong balls, which were brought in on a boat that day. Both kids really like scallops, which we often broil or sauté with browned butter, lemon juice and garlic.
But the kids wanted Chinese, so I think I’ll give them what they want. I pick up a couple of Asian ingredients from the local market, a piece of fresh ginger and some scallions and voila! It’s a tasty, sweet and spicy Chinese takeout dish, General Tso’s scallops, made with fresh, locally caught sea scallops and some locally grown broccoli.
Sea scallops are a tasty, different kind of seafood, and if you haven’t tried them, I highly recommend you do so. Mr. Bill’s Fresh Seafood on Harrisburg Pike carries some of the nicest, freshest sea scallops around, and the proprietor, Tim Glatfelter, or a member of the staff there will gladly provide you with some terrific tips and advice on cooking them in various delicious ways.
You can also make this dish with shrimp, chicken or beef, but you need to try it.
GENERAL TSO’S SCALLOPS
1 pound sea scallops, washed, drained and dried
1/2 cup rice wine, separated into two 1/4-cup measures
4 teaspoons oyster sauce
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese chili-garlic sauce
4 teaspoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon peeled fresh ginger, finely grated
2 scallions, chopped
2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
Combine scallops, 2 tablespoons rice wine, 2 teaspoons oyster sauce and 3 teaspoons cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl; toss to coat. Combine vinegar, sugar, chili-garlic sauce and remaining rice wine from the first 1/4-cup measure, oyster sauce and cornstarch in a separate bowl.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium heat until smoking. Add half of the scallops and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a warm plate. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the skillet and repeat with remaining scallops.
Wipe the skillet with paper towels and return to heat. Add remaining oil and the ginger and scallions and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the second 1/4 cup of wine and the broccoli florets to the skillet; reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the cooked scallops and the ingredients from the second bowl back to the skillet and stir-fry, cooking and stirring constantly until the sauce thickens and the scallops are cooked through, about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately beside a 1/2 cup of white steamed rice.
And if you want to spice it up a bit, add two or three Asian dried red chilies just before you add the ginger and the scallions, and stir-fry them until they turn black, then proceed as directed.