A touch of India, and scallops

Scallops don’t need much assistance really. If you’re adding extras, make sure they are not of the sort which overwhelms. Allow the scallops to speak for themselves, and go for them as a light main course, perhaps preceding your best plate of cheese.

Onions, cooked slowly in the pan are a perfect accompaniment for just about everything.

4 onions, sliced into rings

1 dessertspoon coriander seed

6 star anise

1 dessertspoon cumin seeds

2 onions, chopped finely

1 clove garlic, chopped roughly

1 walnut-sized piece of ginger,

sliced roughly

2 chillies, chopped finely

3 dessertspoons turmeric powder

2 dessertspoons tomato paste

2 cups fish stock, if you have it; water if you don’t

250ml whipping cream


black pepper

lemon juice

½ dozen scallops each



The onions. Heat a little oil in a pan and add the onion rings. Cook slowly until they turn brown, stirring constantly so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. This is a slow, tedious process, as the onions gradually go through several colour changes and changes in consistency. As they give off their moisture, you might need to add a little water here and there. The onions are ready when quite brown, and have lost much of their bulk. Set aside for reheating later.


Now for the sauce. Dry roast the coriander, star anise and cumin in a hot pan, working the spices about the pan with a wooden spoon. The aroma is incredible. When they have roasted sufficiently, a few minutes, and your nose is tingling, remove from the heat and grind, stamp upon, or whizz up the spices. Your ’second’ coffee grinder is best for doing this.


Add some oil to the spice pan and gently fry the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies until the onions change colour and soften — about 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, mixing it through thoroughly, the roasted spices, tomato paste and the stock/water. Reduce gently until the mixture thickens, and then puree. It should be quite thick — there will be enough to form a base for several meals.


To 2 large tablespoons of the sauce base, add the cream and cook gently, stirring constantly. Cook until the cream has reduced and cooked through. Strain through a fine sieve. The sauce should have a rich orange-yellow colour. Test for seasoning and add lemon juice to taste. Keep warm. Heat the oven to 220°C. (You can approximate this sauce by cooking some onions with garlic, ginger and curry powder, and then working cream through.)


Cook the scallops in a hot pan in a little oil, giving them each plenty of space. Toss them about until they are all sizzling, and then place in the oven for 3–5 minutes, until firm and just done.


While the scallops are cooking, re-heat the onions and toss the chives through. Add a little sauce to the scallops and serve with the sauce clinging to the scallops and a spoonful of the caramelised onions on the side.

The sauce an idea from Julie Sahni’s terrific book, Classic Indian Cooking.

WINE: Trammer and I have a love-hate relationship. Too many Australian wines from this grape have an oiliness I don’t like — but the best ones are good. Try Orlando Flaxmans or some blended with Rhine riesling like Krondorf.