An unassuming dish of scallops

An unassuming dish of scallops

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

This recipe continues an exploration of the unassuming nature of my aesthetic as a cook. Here, I try to harvest the briny taste of the sea and contrast that with the sweetness of scallops. The focus is on the taste, rather than trying to create a spectacle on the plate. The look is minimalistic, as I want the ingredients to speak for themselves as unpretentiously as possible.

For the briny concoction


Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
300g small clams, (vongole type are more flavoursome)
50ml dry white wine
100g summer purslane leaves, (see glossary), plus extra to serve
2g agaragar powder

For the wilted watercress

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, unpeeled, bruised
150g large sprigs of watercress
a few chives

For the scallops

Quantity Ingredient
12 large scallops
grapeseed oil, for brushing


  1. Make the briny concoction:
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat and throw in the clams with the white wine. Cook, covered, until the shells open. Strain the juice through a fine sieve into a jug. You can use the clams for another dish. Purée the purslane, strain the juice through muslin into a jug, combine with the clam juice and measure the amount of liquid: you need 200 ml of liquid to be set by 2 g of agar-agar powder. Pour half the liquid into a little saucepan and dissolve the agar-agar in it. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1 minute. Strain and combine with the rest of the liquid. Cool, then put in the refrigerator to set. When ready to use, blend or whisk until creamy like mayonnaise. Add salt to taste.
  3. Wilt the watercress:
  4. Put the butter and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat and heat until the butter melts and separates and becomes nutty in flavour. Add the watercress and chives to the pan and leave them in long enough to wilt but not brown. The watercress takes on an aromatic muddy smell that’s quite pleasant. Season to taste with salt and white pepper and set aside, keeping the leaves warm.
  5. Cook the scallops:
  6. Prepare these at the last moment. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Slice horizontally through the middle of 4 scallops. Season with some salt and white pepper, place on a plate and put in the oven for a few minutes to heat through. Brush a non-stick frying pan with oil and heat up. Sear the remaining 8 scallops in the pan for 1 minute on each side. Season with salt and white pepper.
  7. Assemble the dish:
  8. Spoon the wilted watercress mixture in long strands on each plate. Scatter with pieces of baked scallop and place a spoonful of the briny concoction on each plate. Divide the seared scallops among the plates. Garnish with fresh purslane if you like and serve at once.
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