We love this bowlful of shells in broth
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon finely minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic plus 3 medium garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 green chili, destemmed and minced
pinch of ground cardamom
pinch of turmeric
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Thai shrimp paste
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups water
vegetable oil for frying
24 singing scallops (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), rinsed in cold water
fresh cilantro for garnish
1. In a small skillet over moderate heat, dry-toast coriander and cumin, shaking skillet frequently so seeds don't burn, for 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant. Let seeds cool and grind in a mortar and pestle with the clove. Reserve.
2. Put the lemongrass in mortar and pestle with the ginger and grind into a paste, scraping side often. Add shallots and the tablespoon of minced garlic, and continue to grind mixture until paste is quite smooth. Add the green chili with the ground cardamom, turmeric, sugar, and the reserved ground spices, and mash into the paste. Add the shrimp paste and fish sauce, and blend, scraping the side of the mortar and making sure that the sauce doesn't splash out.
3. Scrape the curry paste into a medium saucepan, and add chicken stock and water. Stir to blend. Cook over moderately high heat for 10 minutes.
4. While broth is cooking, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a small saucepan until hot but not smoking. Add sliced garlic, and cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, until garlic is light golden in color. Drain garlic slices on paper towels.
5. Reduce the heat under the broth to moderate so that the broth simmers. Add the scallops and cook for about 2 minutes, until shells are wide open. Remove scallops as they open.
6. Ladle 1 cup of broth into each of 4 bowls. Put 6 scallops in each bowl and garnish with the garlic chips and the cilantro.
We love this bowlful of shells in broth. But if you can't Find singing scallops for this light but super-Flavorful dish, you can substitute 24 large sea scallops. Even better -- to get the delightful shell-in-broth effect -- combine the shell-less scallops with a few dozen steamers. Serves 4