Now, why would a couple of rednecks in Louisiana need star anise?
Thai Sea Scallops in a Rich Red Curry Sauce
8-10 medium to large sea scallops (Serves 2 for a main entree, 4-8 as an appetizer), OR 20 bay scallops
handful fresh coriander
1-2 whole star anise, plus more for garnish
wedges of fresh lime or lemon (optional)
1/2 cup coconut milk
RED CURRY PASTE:
1 shallot, OR 1/4 cup purple onion, chopped
1 thumb-size piece galangal, OR ginger, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/8 tsp. white pepper, OR substitute black pepper
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (available at Asian stores)
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1-2 tsp. Thai chili sauce (or substitute 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper or crushed dried chili)
1 tsp. shrimp paste (available by the jar at Asian stores)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1. Place all curry paste ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process well to form a thick paste/sauce.
2. Place 2-3 Tbsp. of the paste in a mixing bowl. Add the scallops and gently stir, so that scallops are covered with paste. Set aside.
3. Drizzle 2-3 Tbsp. canola or other vegetable oil into a wok or frying pan set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the rest of the curry paste/sauce.
4. Add the whole star anise and stir-fry the paste/sauce until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Gradually add 1/2 cup more coconut milk. Reduce heat slightly and simmer another minute or two, until the sauce is nicely blended and bubbling.
5. Now add the scallops. Cook the scallops by stirring and turning them in the bubbling curry sauce.
6. Check the inner flesh after 3 minutes to see if they are cooked. Tip: Scallops are done when ridges begin to form around the outside, and the inner flesh is no longer transparent. Look for flesh that is white and opaque. Large scallops may need up to 5 minutes to cook, while smaller ones may need only a minute or two.
7. When scallops are cooked, remove from heat. Do a taste test. If not salty enough, add more fish sauce (1/2 Tbsp. at a time). If too sour for your taste, add 1-2 tsp. more brown sugar. If too spicy, add more coconut milk. If not spicy enough, add more chili flakes or a dollop of chili sauce.
8. Transfer the scallops along with the sauce to a serving bowl. Accompany with jasmine-scented Thai rice, or my Easy Coconut Rice. Garnish with wedges of lime or lemon, fresh coriander, and whole star anise. Serve with Thai jasmine-scented rice, OR Easy Thai Coconut Rice and ENJOY!
Janis: This is a deep, dark sauce like those of the gumbos down here. Different flavor, same comfort.