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Five-Spice Scallops with Chinese Black Bean Sauce

Recipe by Myra Kornfeld
Here, spice-rubbed scallops are topped with a zesty sauce. Five-spice powder, a combination of fennel, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and schezwan peppercorns, along with fermented black soy beans, give this dish its signature flavor. Both are available in gourmet stores and Asian markets. Have all the ingredients for the sauce ready to go before you sauté the scallops, since the sauce comes together in just a couple of minutes.

Editor's note: Myra's recipe calls for sesame oil, which is characteristic of Chinese cuisine. At the cost of altering its flavor, you can cut the omega-6 content of this recipe radically by using mildly nutty macadamia nut oil instead.

Cook's note: To prep the black beans, immerse them in a little water. Lift out the beans, leaving the salt behind. Chop the beans finely.
Yield: Serves 4
Total Time: 20 min
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 10 min
Additional:
Ingredients
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon unrefined toasted sesame oil or macadamia nut oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
3 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons dry sherry or mirin
1 tablespoon shoyu
1 teaspoon sugar, preferably a natural sugar such as evaporated cane sugar (e.g., Sucanat)
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1/4 cup chopped chives, or thinly sliced scallions
Preparation
1.  Pat the scallops dry and rub with the five spice powder.
2.  Film a large non-stick skillet with sesame oil and place over medium high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until a hand held 1 inch above the pan feels hot.
3.  Put the scallops in the pan in a single, uncrowded layer. Season with salt and pepper and let sear undisturbed until one side is browned and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes.
4.  Using tongs, turn the scallops and sear until the second side is well browned and the scallops are almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes.
5.  Take the pan off the heat, transfer the scallops to a plate and set them in a warm spot. Wipe out the skillet before making the sauce.
6.  Warm 1 tablespoon sesame oil in the skillet together with the ginger, garlic and black beans. Cook 1 minute, until sizzling. Stir in the sherry, shoyu and sugar; cook for 30 seconds.
7.  Mix the arrowroot, 1/4 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil in small bowl until well combined. Pour into skillet, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds, or until the liquid thickens. Stir in the chives or scallions.
8.  Add the scallops to the sauce and toss to combine or spoon over the scallops. Serve hot.
About Myra Kornfeld
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