Part of the #CravingsChallenge – 52 recipes from Chrissy Teigen’s ‘Cravings Cookbook’. 52 amateurish attempts.
Salmon and scallops – two things which make seafood one of the best things in the world. But these two recipes from Chrissy’s cookbook take it to another level. When I was flipping through the book and deciding on the next challenge, I landed on these two pages and could already imagine myself wolfing down the final result like I wolfed down that entire bucket of popcorn while watching Suicide Squad (shit movie, but awesome popcorn). Scallops together with corn? Check! Salmon together with the magic that is Thai sweet chilli sauce? Check! So I recruited my two younger sisters, Jetaime and Title, and my younger brother Christopher, to help me make my dream come true.
We decided to start on the seared scallops with warm corn salad first. Like the awesome older sister that I am, I set my sister to work by assigning her the task of chopping up the red bell pepper and the scallion. So behold! My sister Title, the ultimate vegetable chopper:
For the corn, I opted for can corn kernels instead of fresh kernels, just for practical reasons; can corn kernels are easier to find and quicker to prepare. Mix the corn, red bell pepper and scallion. The colours are amazing, as you can see in the picture below. However, this salad nearly died in its preparation stage because we kept eating the corn.
Now to the scallops. Scallops are so crazy expensive, it makes you feel as if you’re losing a piece of your soul when you have to buy them. For this recipe, we used 6 of these suckers. We made sure to pat them dry before we sprinkled them with salt and pepper.
Then, we tackled the salad. First, a little butter in the pan before adding the colourful vegetable concoction we’d been trying really hard not to eat before it was time. The book says we should ‘saute’ them and toss the pan lightly. A particularly challenging feat for amateur chefs like ourselves, but we definitely had fun trying. The colours, though. THE COLOURS!
When the vegetables were crisp, it was time for the main event. After keeping the salad warm in the pan, we put MORE butter in another pan (because why not?) and added in the scallops. Good thing Chrissy has warned us in the book NOT TO TOUCH THEM. It was very difficult, especially when they started to turn golden. But yes, I am here to report that Chrissy was right. Patience is a virtue. However tempted you are to flip them around or poke holes in them with a fork, STEP AWAY!
Wait two to three minutes until crusts start to form, and THEN flip them. As you can see from the picture below, we followed the book’s instructions and were rewarded with these little beauties. Just look at them. Feast your eyes.
You will know that the scallops are ready when they’re all crusty and yummy-looking. Basically, use your instincts. It is easier to cook them than to burn them, in my humble opinion. Make sure to have paper towels at hand to pat them dry after you’ve transferred them from a pan unto a plate. Then, add the salad.
This dish took us no less than twenty minutes! The outcome may look super posh and impressive, but the recipe is so easy to carry out. You can whip this up for lunch, for dinner or even for breakfast in a heartbeat – that is, if you’re one of those people who can afford to buy scallops just to make them into breakfast!
At this point, we were losing our heads over how INCREDIBLE the dish looks.
And the taste, you may ask? Heavenly.
I needed to be held. My sister Title obliged.
Finally, it was the salmon. The mother-freaking salmon.
The recipe requires four salmon fillets, but I was only able to get three because salmons are hard to find in Bangkok. No, that’s a bold face lie, actually. I got three because three salmon fillets are cheaper than four. Logic.
Like every recipe we’ve ever done together, Title started it off by seasoning the gorgeous fillets with salt and pepper.
There are three main sauces for this dish. As you can see in the picture below, we have (from left to right) the large-grain mustard, the sambal oelek (an Indonesian sauce), and the Thai sweet chilli sauce.
Now, a word about Thai sweet chilli sauce.
The Thai sauce which most westerners are crazy about is the Sriracha sauce. Little do they know that actual Thai people do not use or enjoy Sriracha with the same passion. For us, the sauces we value and use most are what I call the Big Three: oyster sauce, fish sauce and sweet chilli sauce. The oyster sauce and the fish sauce are quite well-known to foreigners, but the sweet chilli sauce (or what we call the “chicken sauce”) might be a little more obscure. Thais can use this sauce in almost anything, but mostly we like to eat it with fried dishes – fried fish, fried chicken, fried pork etc. You get the idea. The sauce is simply amazing – a proof that although we’ve never managed to put a man on the moon, but dang it, we were smart enough to make THIS!
Mix the mustard, sambal oelek and sweet chilli sauce in a small bowl. Before today, none of us had ever tasted this combination before. Little did we know that our lives were about to change…
Pour the sauce into a pan and heat it over medium heat. Then, add the salmon fillets with the skin side face up.
Here was when we diverged somewhat from the recipe. Chrissy, I apologise. From the bottom of my heart. If you are reading this (I doubt you are), please understand. The book tells us that after frying the fillets in the pan for a couple of minutes, we should transfer them to an oven and broil them. I confess that I had to google up the definition of “broiling” and find out how it is done. Unfortunately, I had no oven. To improvise, we covered the pan with a plate and “broiled” the fillets for about 4-5 minutes.
We were not sure if we’re supposed to flip them, but I am a lover of salmon skin, so I had to make sure that the skin was extremely crisp before we finished cooking.
When it is done, put it on a plate and pour the sauce.
Admire the way the sauce falls on the salmon. Savour it. Take selfies with it. Write poems and songs about it.
These two recipes are definitely the best ones we’ve tried so far. They are not only super tasty, but also easy and quick to make. To top it all off, we ate both dishes with steamed rice. You know, because we’re super Thai and all that! I am delighted to report that the salmon sauce goes perfectly with the rice, and makes the food (especially the salmon) an amazing blend of Thai and Western. We devoured everything in silence and all of us asked for seconds!
As a bonus, here’s a picture of us, looking exceptionally proud of our efforts.
Peace, love and salmon!
Photographs by my sister Jetaime. You can check out her baked goods at @mudhouse.official