Bay scallops, zucchini Chinese stir fry for dinner

As Mr. Fred Rogers said, “We learn so much by wondering.”

Have you ever wondered why Chinese serve their food dishes diced like a Chinese puzzle? Perhaps it has something to do with a food quote from Confucius, “The honorable and upright man keeps well away from both the slaughterhouse and the kitchen. And he allows no knives on his table.”

Enter Bay scallops, chopsticks, and a good dose of American know-how, with a cooking technique we call stir fry.

Bay scallops are the petite scallops found on ice at your fish market. They are actually saltwater clams found in a bay. Though they aren’t as delicate as a larger sea scallop, they are small bites of marine delectability. Today’s recipe calls for Bay scallops, but sea scallops can be substituted if cut in half lengthwise.

What makes Chinese-style cooking distinctive is the freshness from the last-minute preparation and the sauces that heighten the natural flavors. All of these ingredients commingling in your wok make for an authentic flavored and easy to prepare Chinese banquet. Serving on a bed of basmati rice will elevate it’s East Asian characteristics.

Tip: Keep a tube of tomato paste in your refrigerator and you can create a small amount of tomato sauce by just diluting.

Bay Scallops with Red Pepper and Zucchini

Serves 2 to 3

3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced

1 slice (1/4 inch thick) fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

2 tablespoons dry sherry

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 pound fresh Bay scallops

1 sweet red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch squares

1 small zucchini, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise at 1/4-inch intervals

3 medium scallions (including green), trimmed and sliced diagonally at 1/4-inch intervals

Basmati rice

Ready your garlic and ginger and set aside. In a 1-cup measure combine next 7 ingredients starting with dry sherry and ending with white pepper and set aside. In a small dish stir together cornstarch and water and set aside. Heat a wok over high heat and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and tilt wok to coat the wok’s bottom and lower sides. Add the scallops and stir just until they become opaque-not browned; about one minute. Then transfer scallops to a plate. Add remaining vegetable oil to the wok and gently cook garlic and ginger for 10 seconds. Add red pepper, zucchini, and scallions and stir for about 30 seconds until their color has brightened. Pour the reserved sherry mixture around the side of the wok. Stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken sauce slightly. Return scallops to wok and gently reheat. Serve immediately over basmati rice.

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