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After I add oil to pan on cook top and stir fry them, my scallops get brown sear marks. See photos:

But when ever I order Jade Scallops (西蘭花炒帶子 in Chinese) in HK restaurants, their scallops stay white! I phoned them all yesterday and they confirmed they wok fry them – I don't think they're lying. Top to bottom – House of Canton in Kowloon Tong (first photo beneath),Ming Kee Restaurant in Wan Chai, 金龍冰室 in Tai Po 大埔, Joy Point Dim Sum in Tsim Sha Tsui.

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  • 11
    Why do you want the white ones anyway? I'm sure most people would agree that the browned ones not only look better but taste better too.
    – Aequitas
    Nov 14 '19 at 5:07
  • @Aequitas I'm just curious. They taste different.
    – user24882
    Nov 20 '19 at 7:11
33

Your scallops are (beautifully) seared on the outside because they are cooked all the way through in a very hot pan. The scallops in the Chinese stir fries stay pale because most of their cooking is done at low heat.

They are likely cooked twice: first they are velveted (meaning marinated and oil-blanched) and then very quickly stir fried to reheat. In more detail, we have three steps:

  1. marinate in a mixture of cornstarch, wine, and egg whites

  2. blanch in oil at a very low temperature (at most 300F/150°C)

  3. make the rest of the stir fry over high heat, and add the meat at the very end of cooking

Unfortunately, velveting is an involved project. It involves an oil-blanch which leaves you with a lot of waste oil. For home cooking, some recipes suggest to replace the oil-blanch with a water blanch.

30

The scallops in the first two photos were left on the pan, with no movement, to sear on one side before flipping. To achieve that caramelization takes a couple of minutes before turning. In fact, at that point, the scallop is mostly cooked. In the second two photos, the scallop is likely stir-fried in a wok; that is, it is in constant motion over high heat...or it might be added and left to steam for a couple of minutes, depending on the dish. The scallop will cook quickly, and because of the constant motion (or steaming), not be left in the pan long enough to caramelize.

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  • 32
    Perhaps it's just how I've become accustomed to food - but to me, the seared scallops with the browning look far more appetizing than plain white scallops.
    – SnakeDoc
    Nov 13 '19 at 16:06
  • 6
    They do. They also take longer to cook separately as opposed to in stir fry with everything else, which is probably why the restaurant doesn't cook them that way.
    – user91988
    Nov 13 '19 at 17:45

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