If you were to ask me what are the dishes that I prepare most often, Chinese Five Spice Scallops With Mandarin Orange Salad would be one of the top contenders in my cooking repertoire. You may be wondering why such a simple meal would be one of my favorites. The answer is…it has everything going for it. The sweet, soft and succulent scallops have a caramelized coating of highly aromatic spices. Served alongside an Asian inspired, cool and refreshing salad, this dish is full of flavor, color and texture. What is especially nice is that it is quick and easy to prepare. It is perfect for a weeknight meal and a small version makes a nice appetizer to serve your dinner guests.
Since this meal comes together in a matter of minutes, it is best to have all your ingredients at hand. The salad dressing can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. The crunchy topping can also be made ahead of time and kept in an airtight container. Just be sure to keep it out of sight or you might find yourself nibbling on it all day.
Chinese Five Spice Scallops With Mandarin Orange Salad
Serves two, adjust the recipe accordingly.
- 4 or 5 large dry sea scallops per person (2 for an appetizer portion)
- Chinese five spice powder*
- oil (I use peanut oil)
Dry well and season both sides of the sea scallops with five spice powder, salt and pepper to taste. Coat a nonstick sauté pan with a small amount of oil. When the oil is hot, add the scallops in one layer and cook undisturbed for two minutes or until golden. (Do not overcrowd the pan…cook in batches if necessary.) Turn and cook for approximately another two minutes until golden brown and done.
*Chinese five spice is a fragrant, sweet and slightly spicy blend of grated star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and fennel. The spice blend is common in Chinese cooking and some people consider it to have possible health benefits.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Ponzu (a citrus seasoned soy sauce) or soy sauce
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 2 tsp. honey
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
- 1/4 c. dry roasted peanuts
- 1/4 c. broken ramen noodles (chow mein noodles can be substituted)
- 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/8 tsp. or to taste cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp. cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine the sugar and spices. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the peanuts and noodles to the pan and sprinkle with the sugar mixture. Toss or stir until the peanuts and noodles are coated and the sugar melts. Remove from the heat and spread the topping out on a piece of foil or other nonstick surface to cool.
- Salad greens of your choice
- 1 small can Mandarin oranges, drained (fresh oranges may be substituted)
Toss the salad greens with the dressing and plate. Top with the Mandarin oranges and sprinkle with the crunchy topping.
When serving this meal, I like to put my salad on the plate with the scallops on the side so that the heat doesn’t wilt the greens. I sometimes sprinkle a little chopped cilantro over the dish and put a drop or two of sesame oil on each scallop for additional flavor but that is optional.
This is a light meal that you won’t feel guilty about eating…perhaps that is why I prepare Chinese Five Spice Scallops with Mandarin Orange Salad as often as I do.
For another delicious sea scallop dish, I think you might also enjoy my Asian inspired recipe for Seared Sea Scallops With An Orange Ponzu Sauce.