- 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
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.