Buy scallops in their shells to be absolutely sure of their freshness; your fishmonger will open them for you if you find this difficult. Remember to ask for the shells, which make excellent and attractive serving dishes. Queen scallops are particularly prized for their delicate-tasting coral or roe.
8 king or queen scallops
4 whole star anise
25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter
salt and ground white pepper
fresh chervil sprigs and whole star anise, to garnish
for the relish
1/2 cucumber, peeled
salt, for sprinkling
5 cm (2 in) fresh root ginger, peeled
10 ml (2 tsp) caster sugar
45 ml (3 tbsp) rice wine vinegar
10 ml (2 tsp) ginger juice, strained from a jar of stem ginger
sesame seeds, to garnish
1. To make the relish, halve the cucumber lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard.
2. Cut the cucumber into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces, place in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Open the scallop shells, detach the scallops and remove the edible parts. Cut each scallop into two or three slices and reserve the corals. Coarsely grind the star anise in a mortar with a pestle.
4. Place the scallop slices and corals in a bowl, sprinkle over the star anise and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate for about 1 hour.
5. Rinse the cucumber under cold water, drain well and pat dry on kitchen paper. Cut the ginger into thin julienne strips and mix with the cucumber, sugar, vinegar and ginger juice. Cover and chill until needed.
6. Heat a wok and add the butter.
7. When the butter is hot, add the scallop slices and corals and stir-fry for 2 - 3 minutes. Garnish with sprigs of chervil and whole star anise, and serve with the cucumber relish, sprinkled with sesame seeds.
To prepare scallops, hold the shell, flat side up, and insert a strong knife between the shells to cut through the muscle. Separate the two shells. Slide the knife blade underneath the scallop in the bottom shell to cut the second muscle. Remove the scallop and separate the edible parts - the white muscle and orange coral or roe. The skirt can be used for making fish stock, but the other parts should be discarded.
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