Scampi with pickled cabbage and textures of barley

Scampi with pickled cabbage and textures of barley

Dig In!
Mark Roper

For this dish I tried to get the most out of barley, which is normally boiled. I decided to make three different textures – soft, chewy and crunchy. The pickled cabbage adds a lovely acidity and red cabbage juice is used to cook the scampi. You have to be careful with this dish because the scampi are so delicate that they’re easily lost when using a lot of flavours, so the proportions are important. Always remember to taste everything as you go.


Quantity Ingredient
110g pearl barley
8 scampi, shelled, with shells and roe reserved
1 small red cabbage
125ml apple cider vinegar
110g sugar
grapeseed oil, for deep-frying
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 anchovy fillets, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons apera
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
40g butter
chervil, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (or 180°C for a fan-forced oven).
  2. Cook the barley in boiling water until tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain well and divide into 2 portions.
  3. Place the reserved scampi shells on a baking tray and roast them in the oven until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Thinly slice a quarter of the cabbage and set aside.
  5. Juice the remaining cabbage and set aside – you will need about 190 ml cabbage juice.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the pickled cabbage, place the vinegar, sugar and 60 ml water in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Place the thinly sliced cabbage in a heatproof bowl and pour over the boiling liquid. Set aside, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
  7. Place 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the garlic and anchovies, stirring frequently, for 2–3 minutes. Add the roasted scampi shells and cook for a further minute. Add the apera and deglaze the pan. Add the cabbage juice and allow to simmer until the liquid has reduced by half and thickened slightly, about 6–8 minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and strain, reserving the liquid. Discard the solids. Add the fennel seeds to the liquid, season with salt and pepper and set aside, keeping warm.
  9. Fill a medium saucepan one-third full with grapeseed oil and set over high heat. When the oil reaches 180°C or when the oil bubbles around the handle of a wooden spoon inserted in the oil, add half the cooked barley and deep-fry it until golden and crisp on the outside, about 2–3 minutes. Remove the barley from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towel to drain.
  10. Place the butter in a frying pan over low heat. Add the scampi and fry it, basting well with the butter, until cooked through, about 1 minute.
  11. To serve, spoon some boiled barley and some deep-fried barley onto each serving plate. Top with the scampi and pickled cabbage. Drizzle with the sauce and garnish with the chervil and scampi roe.

Brent’s tip:

  • Store any left-over cabbage juice in the refrigerator. Add it to sauces for a unique colour or add to fresh fruit juices.
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