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Laksa Scallops w. Sweet Chili Sauce (Serves 4)

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Cooking & Preparation Time:  Around 60 minutes   Starfish Rating:

3 limes, zested and halved
11 oz (312 g) peeled shrimp, roughly chopped
2 tablespoon (30 ml) fish sauce
2 to 3 fresh red chilies, seeded
3 cloves of garlic
Large thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
Large handful of fresh cilantro, leaves picked, stalks reserved
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil
Small handful of lime leaves (available fresh or dried in most Asian markets)
Olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) tamarind paste
2 14-oz (398-ml) cans unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup (160 ml) chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 oz (190 g) noodles
12 scallops
4 finely sliced spring onions

Put the lime zest into a bowl with your shrimp. Add the juice of 2 of the limes and your fish sauce. Mix well, and let marinate for about 10 minutes.

In a pestle and mortar or a food processor, pound or blitz the chilies, garlic, ginger, cilantro stalks, sesame oil and lime leaves until you have a paste.

Heat a large casserole or wok, pour in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add the tamarind paste, stirring quickly. Cook for about a minute before adding your shrimp and all the flavourful juices from the bowl. Allow to cook for another minute, stirring. Then add the coconut milk and chicken stock. Turn the heat down and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes. Taste you may need to add salt and pepper or more fish sauce, and just enough lime juice to give it a good twang, as Asian food should be hot, salty, sweet and sour.

Get a pot of water boiling for your noodles or rice. Now lightly score the scallops with a criss-cross pattern on one side so that when they cook they will open out to look like flowers. Get a large nonstick frying pan hot and pour in a little olive oil. Put your lightly seasoned scallops into the pan and cook for a couple of minutes on each side until golden. Halfway through, add the noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.

Remove the scallops from the heat. Drain the noodles and divide between four serving bowls, spooning the laksa stew over the top. Sprinkle with the cilantro leaves or you can try some finely sliced spring onions or some cress to give a bit of a crunch. Then lay two or three scallops on top of each bowl. Lovely served with a dollop of sweet chili jam, which you can buy just about everywhere these days.

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