Chocolate with Scallops? Risk-takers’ reward

“My theory is that all of Scottish cuisine is based on a dare.”

Mike Myers, Readers Digest

This recipe is inspired by one from The Gü Chocolate Cookbook.

In the introduction to the recipe the authors (it’s written by ‘the Gü team’) explain that the chocolate (as well as the biscuity, nutty sesame seeds) acts as a flavour enhancer. What that Gü team don’t know about chocolate isn’t worth knowing.

Nevertheless, I was sceptical. But, reader, I tried it, together with a group of three other intrepid Saucy Dressings’ tasters, and we all pronounced it wonderful.

One of the tasters was allergic to shellfish. For him we substituted chestnut mushrooms – and that too was a great success.

We’re currently in March – the month for monster king scallops – and this downright opulent dish (yes, indeedy, this is not one for the hard up) is best made with these larger scallops – but it would work just as well with the smaller queen scallops – you will just need about double the number. A king scallop can grow to 17 cm across!

What is the difference between king and queen scallops?

They are not, as I thought, simply male and female of the same species. King and queen scallops are, in fact, two entirely different animals. King scallops (Pecten maximus) are found mostly in Scotland, whereas queen scallops (Aequipecten opercularis) are fished all around the UK.

For other scallop recipes, follow this link.

Recipe for risk-takers’ king scallops with chocolate sauce

Serves 4


  • 50g/2 oz/one fifth of a brick of butter
  • 12 king scallops, roe and trim removed – or chestnut mushrooms for vegetarians or those allergic to shellfish – when you get them home, keep them in the fridge covered with kitchen paper. You can also order them on the internet from MacDuff Shellfish 
  • 1 large leek – or 10 banana shallots and a small bunch of chives
  • 4 tbsps sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsps olive oil – maybe more to oil the scallops
  • Smoked salt and Indonesian long pepper
  • 4 tbsps of sake, plus a bit more for deglazing – make sure you get a good one if you are thinking of also drinking this with your meal. A good brand which you can serve warm is Sawanotsuru Deluxe Sake.
  • 4 tbsps of rich soy sauce – Lee Kum Kee is my go-to – follow this link for more information
  • 25g/1 oz dark chocolate


  1. Melt the butter gently in a large frying pan.
  2. Finely slice the leek (or peel and chop the shallots), and, if it has earth in it, wash and drain.
  3. Add to the frying pan, season, and fry gently until really cooked through – this may take 15 minutes, although you can reduce the cooking time by covering with foil or a lid. Just before they look as if they are done, add about half the sesame seeds.
  4. Meanwhile rinse the scallops, pat dry and grind over some pepper. Put the scallops into a bowl and add some oil – mix with your hand to coat. Sprinkle some sesame seeds onto one side of a scallop, and press to get them to adhere.
  5. Make the sauce by mixing the sake and the soy sauce in a small saucepan, and bringing to a simmer – cook for a while (ten minutes or so) to reduce. Take off the heat, and add the chocolate, broken into smallish pieces. Dissolve the chocolate in the sake and soy. The final sauce should be syrupy and smooth.
  6. Remove the leeks (or the shallots plus chives) to a warm plate, deglaze the frying pan with some more sake, and pour into the sauce.
  7. Add the butter to the frying pan and fry the scallop, sesame seed side down first, for about 30 seconds. Then, carefully turn, and fry another 30 seconds – until golden on both sides – when you turn the scallop brush with a little oil and sprinkle over more sesame seeds. Coat one side of the next scallop with sesame seeds, fry, and so on. You may need to do this in batches because if the scallops are squashed together they will boil and you won’t achieve the golden caramelised look. Don’t worry if lots of the sesame seeds fall off – take them out before they burn and use them to scatter over as you serve.

Music to listen to as you cook

So, obviously, as you try out this risky, daring paring, you deserve to listen to the calming music from the score of the film Braveheart while you make this.

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