Scallops with chilli and lime

A little heat, a little zing, simple, fast and delicious.


There's a long bench in my kitchen that serves as both a work surface and a place to eat. Conveniently – for me, at least – it means that I can give my guests tasks while I make them dinner. As long as they can use either a spoon or a knife, and I'm pleased to report most of them can, salads can be dressed and herbs can be chopped so dinner comes together more easily. I also demand a constant stream of news and gossip, so instead of being about waiting for food, the evening becomes a collaboration.

I try to take the stress out of entertaining by organising lots of stuff in advance so I'm not tied to the stove all night. Here I go a step further and give one of my guests the job of making a plateful of these scallops, and they're so easy that anyone can make them. I can walk away and have a little wine time or hunt down napkins or whatever.

Even though there's a recipe below, you really don't need it. No matter how many of these you want to make, and you can easily make dozens of them if you need to, the basic operation is the same. Fry scallops in a little butter, stir some chopped red chilli (the long, milder kind) through the pan, and serve with lime wedges and some coriander. A little heat, a little zing, simple, fast and delicious, they're perfect with drinks before dinner's main event.

Scallops with chilli and lime


For 2.

6 scallops
1 teaspoon butter
a drop of olive oil
1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
lime wedges, to serve

Melt the butter and a drop of olive in a small frying pan over medium-high heat.

When the butter foams, drop in the scallops and let them cook for one minute, until golden, then turn them over for another minute.

Add the chilli to the pan, letting it sizzle for a few moments.

Remove the scallops to a plate, spooning over the chilli and any butter from the pan.

Scatter with chopped coriander and squeeze over some lime juice. Eat immediately.