Don't be intimidated by the spices and exotic ingredients. If you can't find fresh kaffir lime leaves in the produce section, try templeofthai.com. Freeze any extra leaves; they should last up to a year.
Servings: Serves 8
Ingredients
  • 14 fresh green Thai chilies , stems removed, or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon sliced fresh lemongrass
  • 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger , peeled
  • 1 thin slice   fresh kaffir lime leaf (about 1 1/2 x 1/4 inches) or 1 thin slice   lemon rind (white pith removed)
  • 8 fresh cilantro stems, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 canned anchovies   or 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cans (14 ounces) coconut milk , left undisturbed for 3 hours or more
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 tablespoons green curry paste (see recipe above)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste   or 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 pounds sea scallops , patted dry with a paper towel
  • 8 fresh kaffir lime leaves   or 2 teaspoons julienned lemon rind (white pith removed)
  • 1 cup small fresh sweet basil leaves , loosely packed
Directions
To make curry paste: Place all ingredients in a food processor. Add 4 to 5 tablespoons water; blend well until forms a smooth paste. Makes about 10 tablespoons.

To make scallops: With minimal disturbance, carefully open both cans of coconut milk. From each can, remove 4 tablespoons of thick cream that has accumulated on top; set aside. Blend remaining contents well; set aside.

Pour 2 tablespoons oil into a large, nonstick frying pan or sauté pan set over medium heat. When oil is hot, add coconut cream and green curry paste. Stir-fry until oil separates and paste is lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add fish sauce, tamarind paste (or lemon juice), sugar, reserved coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons water. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Taste for balance of flavors, adding more fish sauce, sugar, or tamarind paste (or lemon juice), if needed. Remove from heat.

Pour 2 tablespoons oil into a separate, large, nonstick pan set over medium-high heat. When oil is very hot, add half the scallops in a single layer. Brown lightly on one side, then carefully turn over and brown opposite side. Remove cooked scallops to a bowl and brown remaining raw scallops the same way, using remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Heat sauce, put in scallops, and stir. Cook gently until scallops are just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Before serving, tear kaffir lime leaves or lemon rind (or remove vein from leaves and cut into fine strips) and scatter with whole basil leaves over scallops.

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