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


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.

40 Replies to “Scallops Fried in Nori, or Hotate no nori age”

  1. This sounds unique, the Japanese version of schnitzel, using nori instead of breadcrumbs. Fried nori is awesome, I’ve only tried those sold in Asian shops, looks like bag of chips, tastes nothing like bag of chips! Nice plate, and nice food too:)

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. If one day I start blogging in German, I will remember your suggestion for this dish description 😉
      Thank you for the plate compliment, it’s my recent find from a Japanese grocer and I love it. It wasn’t cheap, so I hesitated for a long time. Your comment makes me feel it was a good buy. I am wondering what nori you talk about, the Korean thin stripes soaked in soy sauce? (I love these!). I made this with the big nor sheets used for maki rolls.

  2. Nori is such a great idea here and I can absolutely see how it would remind you of freshly caught fish. Funny enough, I was just looking at a package of nori earlier this week at the health food store and thinking I needed more ideas on how to incorporate this power food into our diet! Thank you for the inspiration. Scallops are my favourite seafood – yay!!

    1. Thank you, Kelly. I also prefer scallops among all the seafood and luckily they are quite often on special offer. It’s funny because while scallops fried in breadcrumbs I have posted taste like scallops (only juicier than usually) here they really change into a very positive freshwater fish taste… I think you can also cut nori into strips or small pieces and sprinkle over noodles, rice or soups. I love the Korean strips soaked in soy sauce. I could eat two packages in 5 minutes.

  3. Nori and scallops really do sound like a wonderful combination, I can almost taste it in my mind! I am a HUGE fan of both, the problem is fresh scallops are very pricey, but the frozen ones don’t seem to taste as good. I will have to save this recipe one day for special occasions!

    1. I know, scallops may be very expensive, but whenever I see them on special price, I buy more and freeze. Home-frozen taste so much better than the store-frozen (I was told they spend sometimes several years frozen before the shop receives them).

  4. I have a hard time imagining deep frying a scallop, but I’m totally intrigued by this idea/recipe. I might just have to give it a try. 😉

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Actually, most people say scallops should be carefully handled, delicately pan fried or grilled, never with hot spices and for the last several months I have been discovering scallops can perfectly handle even Thai green curry or Korean gochujang, while breaded deep-fried scallops (it’s an American recipe I posted some time ago) are the juiciest and most delicate scallops I have ever had! Give a chance at least to one breaded scallop.

  5. I’ve never prepared scallops this way (I think?). I love deep fried nori (tempura nori esp) and nori smells good when you bite into it… and I can imagine this is a really good dish. So easy to make too! I will probably have a control issue once I pop one into mouth then no stop…. 😉

    1. Thank you, Nami. I have never made tempura nori! Thank you for the idea! It’s true that nori develops a wonderful smell when fried (I was worried first it would completely burn, but it didn’t). I don’t make deep-fried scallops very often because I also have the “control issue” you talk about 😉

  6. Great idea this, Sissi. I’ve never really liked using breadcrumbs to coat for frying. Using nori is much more enticing for me … love those things 😀

    1. Thank you, Ping. I have never liked either, but since I discovered deep-fried scallops both nori and breadcrumbs coating are fantastic.

  7. This looks delicious and definitely something new to me. I love nori to the extent that I can just eat it on its own. Imagine this to be similar to the Japanese style of crumbed deep-fried oysters.

    1. Thank you. I also eat it on its own (especially the Korean soy sauce soaked strips we talked about with Mr. Three-Cookies). I have never had deep-fried oysters (actually I have never had warm oysters, only the living ones).

  8. Hmmm, I have never prepared scallops at home because it’s hard getting fresh or even frozen scallops over here. The Germans are mostly not very fond of seafood unfortunately, maybe it would be different if I lived in the northern part of Germany. I really like the idea of scallops with nori, especially because it’s deep fried ;)! What a sinfully delicious treat…:D)!!

    1. Thank you, CG. I’m sorry for you, but I’m sure you can get many products I am unable to find here 🙂

  9. You know, I had never cooked with scallops until a couple of nights ago. I’d always avoided them because to be honest they’re not really my favourite… er… fish? Shellfish, I suppose they’re classed as, right? I always found they have this stale fish flavour, and I’ve tried quite a lot so I’m sure it’s not just a bad one I’ve had. In any case – I bought some which said “avec corail” – silly me, I thought that meant shell so I was hoping they would have the shell attached. Instead they have that nasty crescent sac of eggs… (do people eat that? :'( ) – After cooking them I found they weren’t so bad… I could definitely eat them again, although I wouldn’t seek them out on purpose. However… I do love what you’ve done – it’s so much fun to see new ideas and techniques on cooking things, even if the primary ingredient isn’t my favourite… My wife loves them, so I could make a little “panaché” for her maybe with scallops, some shrimps and the nori… it’s like a posh spinach 😀

    1. Thank you Charles. Some people eat the orange “corail”, but it is made into a sauce most of the time (I never eat it, it’s fishy and not very good) and anyway most of the scallops I buy don’t have it.
      You could try deep-frying in bread crumbs next time. Scallops are really juicy and excellent!

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