Scallops Fried in Nori, or Hotate no nori age

This simple, but surprising way to prepare scallops is another palatable – but maybe not visually appealing – discovery I owe to the Japanese Cooking. A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji. I have already written about this incredible book for example here, so I will not bore you with my enthusiastic impressions or details. I will just say that not only do I praise it as highly as at the beginning, but the longer I have it, the more I am convinced it is the best cookery book I have ever seen in my life.

This frying method is defined as “Kawari age”, meaning “variation frying”. According to Shizuo Tsuji, it is quite a recent innovation in the Japanese cuisine (although the book was written about 30 years ago). Just like tempura, this method consists in deep-frying, but first the food is dipped in the egg white and then in different types of coating.

As a recent, but avowed fan of deep-fried scallops (see here the recipe for Deep-Fried Breaded Scallops), I decided to try them in one of the kawari age coatings. I experimented with several of them, with more or less successful results (e.g. I strongly advise you against poppy seeds, which become very bitter), but chopped nori seaweed (the one used for maki rolls) was the absolute winner. Fried nori darkens and becomes crunchy, but doesn’t lose its delicate “oceanic” flavour or aroma and proves extraordinary with scallops. Strangely, scallops in crunchy nori remind me a bit of the freshly caught, fried, small river fish.

The instructions are quite easy to follow, the only really tricky part being the stickiness of the chopped nori. While coating the scallops I would advise placing chopped nori on a flat surface, a portion only for one scallop at a time.

I have almost forgotten to emphasize it’s an excellent way to use up leftover egg whites.

Preparation: 30 minutes (or more, depending on the batch and the size of the deep-frying pan)

Ingredients (serves 2):

10 scallops without the coral and opaque, tough “foot” (cut horizontally in two, if they are very big)

3- 4 sheets of nori seaweed

a couple of tablespoons flour

1 egg white

(salt)

Preheat the deep-frying oil (it’s hot enough when a tiny piece of bread thrown into the fat doesn’t “sink” and stays on the surface instantly browning).

Chop the nori seaweed very finely (scissors are very handy here) and place a portion for one scallop on a flat surface.

Beat slightly the egg white with a fork or with chopsticks.

Sprinkle some salt on the scallops (this step is not necessary) and dip them first in the flour, then in the beaten egg and then roll them in the chopped nori.

Deep-fry the scallops until they are golden.

I found them delicious served simply with soy sauce and rice.