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½ cup sugar

¾ cup water

1 stalk of lemongrass, pounded (or the zest of one lemon)

½ large red chilli, deseeded & finely diced

3tsp fish sauce

Juice of one lime (or lemon)

Watercress (or rocket), washed with large stalks removed

1 dozen scallops

½ cup crème fraiche

This salad can be served as individual portions on a Chinese spoon as a nibble, on small plates as a starter, or on a large platter as a salad for sharing. 

  1. First, make the dressing by putting the sugar, water and lemongrass into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and continue to cook until the mixture is slightly reduced and syrupy.
  2. Turn the heat off and add the fish sauce, lime juice, and chilli, adjusting to taste and aim for a good balance of salty sweet and sour, with a touch of heat. Leave on the stove to keep warm.
  3. Lay the watercress on the serving dish. Preheat a griddle pan or grated BBQ until smoking hot. Sear the scallops until you see the bottom of the side of the scallop starting to turn white. As soon as you see that, turn immediately. It’s really important not to overcook the scallops, so watch them carefully. Remember, that they will continue cooking after they are removed from the pan and they are always better a little under than a little over.
  4. Scatter the scallops over the watercress, dot with crème fraiche, and drizzle with warm dressing. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Lana Garland, for the Whitianga Scallop Festival