Scallop cucumber

go straight to the recipe

The days when we could get queen scallops from Paul Polacco who used to dive off of Kangaroo Island is sadly a sweet memory. Despite almost giving me a nervous breakdown a couple of times because they arrived just before the dinner was due to start they were still alive and the most incredible product.

It has been several years since I have seen a fresh scallop in Adelaide and those were nowhere near the quality Paul used to deliver to the doors of Australia’s best produce driven restaurants. Half-shell Hervey Bay scallops have been put on hold for environmental reasons and there are now half-shell scallops coming from the Abrolhos Islands, remote islands off of the coast of Western Australia. Like the Hervey Bay scallops they come without roe and are always frozen. At last count they were $2 + AUD each, so it you have your food costs right at 20% and want to serve four, because they are tiny, and entrée without any other embellishment should cost $40 AUD. Diners need to understand what things should cost so that their favourite restaurant stays in business.

Mistress Augustine’s closed 30 years ago, and in the 80s fresh scallops with roe on were abundant. We quickly learned, that for some bizarre reason 99% of diners didn’t eat the roe and in complete frustration we removed the roe and turned it into a scallop roe custard which even more bizarrely sold very well. Go figure! Of course, it was great for us.

I have tried several of the Japanese frozen brands and whilst they are not even slightly close to a live queen scallop from South Australia’s, Kangaroo Island we have made them work by careful thawing on paper towel in the fridge overnight, searing at very high heat and resting and combining them with fresher flavours and crunch so that they are more texture than anything else. These scallops are also expensive $2 + AUD each [and we have been warned of an imminent further price rise], but they are larger and 2.5 per person is sufficient for an entrée…we buy ours from Atlanta Oyster and Seafood 61 8 8234 0121 and take their advice as to what is best at the time. With many brands of Japanese frozen scallops there is significant moisture loss when thawing, sometimes as much as 50%. We have found with the two brands stocked by Atlanta Oyster and Seafood that we can keep the moisture weight loss to about 20-25% which is significant.

AO 23 OCTOBER 2022

for the scallops
15 scallops thawed overnight in the fridge sitting on paper towel. and then sliced in half horizontally
Malden sea salt
white pepper, freshly and finely ground
clarified butter

for the cucumber
12 baby Lebanese cucumbers slit in half horizontally and seeds scooped out with a small melon baller
12 halves finely diced

for the radish salad click here
one full quantity of this recipe, best made the night before

thai coconut dresing

for the Thai coconut dressing
this makes more than you need but it keeps, refrigerated for a couple of weeks…we like it on a lot of things even a couple of hard boiled eggs with a bit of lettuce

500ml Kara brand UHT coconut cream
30g palm sugar, finely grated or chopped
2 kaffir limes, finely grated rind and juice ….if not available add a lime
2 limes, finely grated rind and juice
30g p/w shallots that have been finely chopped and marinated in the lime juice for an hour
20g p/w ginger, finely grated
20g p/w galangal, finely grated [1]
20g p/w garlic, very finely chopped
6 stems of lemon grass, soft inner part only very finely chopped
6 kaffir lime leaves, very finely chopped
4-6 Thai chillies very finely chopped
50g Megachef fish or anchovy sauce

Mix everything together and refrigerate until plating the dish.

[1] Good galangal is hard to find and despite numerous attempts to grow it I have had no luck. Luckily it freezes well, so when I see first quality I grab a lot and put it in the freeze. It is also much easier to peel when it is frozen.

to assemble
the dish

10 minutes max!

Divide the diced cucumber between your plates and sit two halves on top.
Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Pre heat a steel pan until scorching hot, add a very small amount of clarified butter and quickly sear all of the scallop pieces. They should be golden on both sides. It is very important to pre heat the pan if you cook them through they will shrivel and be unsightly and chewy.

Put 5 pieces of scallop on top of the cucumber and then pile the radish salad on top. Stir the Thai dressing to that it is properly combined and spoon the dressing around the cucumber. Serve immediately!

BELOW : Lina Verilli, Patlin Gardens one of our most favourite growers.


love your local


If you shop in a supermarket it is time you got out of your comfort zone and hit your local farmers’ market. Not only do you know where your food comes from, but it will taste better, be seasonal and not have sat in a coolroom for months on end. Add to that you are giving your money to the people who most deserve it…farmers!