Scallops Aglio e Olio
I may be a noob cook, but I’m proud to say that I’ve learnt to whip up a mean dish of scallops Aglio Olio on-the-go. Aglio e Olio which means garlic and oil is a traditional Italian pasta and one of the first few dishes I learnt to make when I started cooking. Nowadays, I’m quite reluctant to order this dish outside, because it’s usually quite expensive on the menu, yet so cheap & easy to make at home – I’d rather spend the money on finer ingredients or buy white wine to complete the meal. Sometimes I feel really shortchanged when I order this, to find the pasta too dry (it’s supposed to be quite oily) or not cooked till al dente (firm with a bite).
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This recipe is really easy but it may take some practice to cook the garlic to golden brown perfection. To me, this is the perfect recipe to practise some basics of cooking, and for that reason alone, I try to cook this dish now and then. Early mistakes I made included either over-heating the oil causing the garlic to splatter and burn shortly after adding; or waiting too long before turning off the heat and burning the garlic. With practice, it will be a breeze to pull off this gourmet looking meal under 30 minutes. Besides scallops, you can whip up other versions like mushrooms. Sometimes, I also do a seafood version with scallops, squid and prawns.
- 2 servings of pasta (I used 180g linguine)
- 10 fresh large white scallops
- 3 tbsp fine olive oil
- 40g butter, divided
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 chilli padi, sliced (optional, can also substitute with 1/2 tsp chilli flakes)
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 30g Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1. Fill a pot with water (enough to submerge pasta) and about 1 tbsp sea salt. Bring the water to a boil and then cook pasta according to the timing indicated on the packet. Drain and set aside the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.
2. Heat a deep pan and add half the butter. Spread the melted butter evenly over the pan either by swirling the pan, or using a spatula.
3. Season scallops with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then arrange one layer on the pan. Allow one side to sear and brown before flipping over to the other side using kitchen tongs. When both sides of the scallops are browned, take out and set aside on a plate.
4. Add olive oil to the pan with the scallop juices and browned bits. When the oil is heated, add chopped garlic and chilli padi/chilli flakes (if using). Saute till the garlic turns light brown.
5. Off the flame and let garlic cook for a few more seconds and turn a lovely golden brown. Add cooked pasta, 1-2 tbsp reserve pasta water, 3/4 of the chopped parsley and remaining butter (cubed). Season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Mix well to coat the pasta evenly, ensuring the butter is melted fully.
6. Dish pasta to serving plates and top with the cooked scallops and the remaining chopped parsley.
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