Pan-seared Scallops – Minted Peas – Pancetta

I was very keen to try making this dish after eating it at Ripples Milsons Point in Sydney. It’s not a revolutionary recipe and it’s been around for yonks, but it doesn’t take that much time to prepare and is actually quite a simple recipe in terms of it’s components and cooking method.


Scallops, minted peas and pancetta served on a block on Himalayan pink salt with truffled cream

Believe it or not, I have never attempted to cook scallops before, one of the easiest things too cook and actually not as expensive as I thought they would be. I cleared out the scallops at GrEAT and bought 12 pieces of scallop meat for HK$282 to cook as a starter portion for 4 people. It is a dish that feels quite grand, will impress your guests, and you can have a little silent chuckle with yourself whilst they eat it up, because it was just that easy to make.

The petits pois were in the freezer – smaller than the US brands of frozen green peas, they are picked young when they are sweeter. I find they keep their colour better, and are more crisp. The bacon was in the fridge too, so I used that instead of pancetta. You could use pancetta cubes as well if you want. The truffle cream is not necessary, but it looks pretty on the plate if you can be bothered. I had black truffle paste in the fridge from a previous dinner party, so I stirred that into some crème fraîche and hey presto!

Allow me to digress, but whenever I hear the words ‘crème fraîche’, I am always reminded of that hilarious South Park episode featuring an emotional Jamie Oliver, an aggressively passionate Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batalli, Paula Dean and Giada de Laurentiis – and let’s not forget the  Shake Weight. Or the cream freeeesh. Definitely one of my favorite episodes!

Ok, now back to the cooking – try out the recipe, you won’t regret it. This recipe serves 4 as a starter.

You’ll need:

4 rashers of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
12 scallops
25g unsalted butter
salt and ground black pepper

For the Minted Pea Purée:
50g unsalted butter
6 spring onions, finely sliced (I used 3/4 of an onion, which is also fine)
200g petits pois
1 tsp caster sugar
275ml chicken stock
2 tbsp mint, leaves only, rough chopped
80ml double cream


Make the minted pea purée. Melt half of the butter until hot and foaming in a deep skillet and soften the onions. Add the petits pois, sugar, stock and the rest of the butter. Make a drop lid from greaseproof paper: cut off a piece just bigger than the skillet, fold it in quarters and use scissors to cut the edge in a circular shape. Cover the peas with the drop lid and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

(Drop lids help to cook evenly, and also preserve the bright colour of the peas.)

Remove the drop lid, stir in the mint and cream and cook briskly for a further minute or so until the liquid has almost all evaporated. Pour the pea mixture into a food processor and blitz into a purée that still has a bit of chunk to it. Set aside.

Cook the scallops and the bacon. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, heat a griddle pan and melt 25g of unsalted butter, then sear the scallops for one minute on each side. If there are one or two pieces that are a bit bigger then cook them for a little longer, but don;t be tempted to cook for too long – they’ll get rubbery. Meanwhile, fry up the bacon.

Plate it up – I did it exactly like they did at Ripples in the picture above. It was so good that I didn’t have time to take a picture!

♥♥♥ Enjoy! ♥♥♥

Ripples on Sydney Harbour

But calm and lucid as an English lake,
Beloved by beams and wooed by wind and wing,
Shut in from tempest-trampled wastes of wave,
And sheltered from white wraths of surge by walls—
Grand ramparts founded by the hand of God,
The lordly Harbour gleams. Yea, like a shield
Of marvellous gold dropped in his fiery flight
By some lost angel in the elder days,
When Satan faced and fought Omnipotence,
It shines amongst fair, flowering hills, and flows
By dells of glimmering greenness manifold.
And all day long, when soft-eyed Spring comes round
With gracious gifts of bird and leaf and grass—
And through the noon, when sumptuous Summer sleeps
By yellowing runnels under beetling cliffs,
This royal water blossoms far and wide
With ships from all the corners of the world.

From the poem, Sydney Harbour, by Henry Kendall.


Going under the bridge for the short ride across the harbour to Luna Park

There is little wonder why Sydney Harbour is known as the most beautiful natural harbour in the world. As a Hong Konger, I’d like to proclaim the same about my harbour, but apples to apples, it doesn’t make the cut. Perhaps I am lucky to always visit in the autumn, when the sun shines brightly and the breezes are cool, but I have fallen in love with this city, so much so that I am reading poems about it!

On the final day of our visit, we boarded a ferry named Alexander (like my brother!)  for lunch at Ripples Milsons Point Luna Park, which is the first stop on the Darling Harbour service and a short 7 minute chug across the harbour.  We had been recommended to go there by a friend, who mentioned that there is a smarter restaurant above called Aqua, but that Ripples on the ground level was casual, well-priced and yet served great food.



Circular Quay and a blue, blue sky as we leave the terminal

This is what we saw as we approached on the ferry – a huge smiling face with great big teeth between two Empire State Building-esk towers and a colourful ferris wheel! In this computer-reliant age, I am guilty of being one of those people that googles everything before I visit it. The experience is akin to film versus digital photography – sure, it’s nice to be able to check your screen to see if your photo turned out well.  But don’t you sometimes miss that excitement and anticipation of picking up the little envelope of photos after developing your roll of film, wondering how they look and even surprising yourself with photos that you didn’t recall taking?  Well, this time, I didn’t google anything before our lunch, so you can imagine the surprise and glee when I realised that Luna Park wasn’t of the garden variety, but a huge colourful theme park – I felt like a little girl again, for a few moments! My mother mentioned that she used to love coming here when she was younger, and the look of nostalgia that crossed over her face was heart-warming.


Luna Park


The entrance to Luna Park

North Sydney Olympic Pool

From – a wonderful blog site that used to publish a photo of Sydney every day, but for some reason stopped in 2006. I’m tempted to write to him and ask him to continue where he left off!

The restaurant is situated next to the North Sydney Olympic Pool, most likely the most scenic public pool in Sydney, perhaps the world! Ripples is located on the bottom left-hand corner of the pool, and used to be where the pool kiosk was located.It was transformed in to an alfresco restaurant in 2002,which serves casual Australian fare with seasonal ingredients, with a view to die for.


Ripples Milsons Point

We ordered a bottle of Rosé and a selection of food to share between the three of us. Apart from pavlova, I can’t think of a particular dish that represents Australian cuisine, like France has coq au vin, Italy has pasta, or the Philippines has adobo. When I think of Australian cuisine, I think of BBQs, seafood, and I think of the most fresh ingredients that I have tasted, ingredients that taste of sunshine. So for me, that is what Australia has – sunshine, on a plate.


Scallops – minted peas – pancetta – truffle cream AUD$21 (HK$170)

The scallops were served on a block of Himalayan pink salt – stunning! I need to get me some of those! The scallops were bouncy and full of delicate flavour. I have always loved this combination of scallops, mint and pancetta and this dish does not disappoint. In fact, we liked it so much that we immediately ordered another one!


Sashimi – avocado – cucumber – ginger AUD 22 (HK$ 177)

I was a bit reluctant to order sashimi, particularly because we eat so much of it at home, but my mum insisted, and I’m glad that she did. First of all, the fish was served almost at room temperature, which was actually quite nice and different from your usual sashimi experience. The kingfish had a nice fresh flavour, and I loved that avo (avocado for us non-Australians) and ginger flavour. I’m definitely trying to replicate this at my next dinner party!


Fish of the day?


Aracini – tomato – basil – mozzarella AUD 18 (HK$ 145)

We had a thing with risotto balls during this trip, and these ones were certainly very different to the ones that we tried at Berta (post coming soon). I’m not usually a fan of risotto, or risotto balls by extension, but the rice was tender and the center of melted mozzarella was a really nice surprise –  I like dem Aussie risotto balls!


Whitebait – lime mayo AUD 9.50 (HK$ 76)

From the ‘nibbles & sharing” section of the menu, the whitebait was crispy and quite meaty as far as the small fish goes, with a nice and very dip-able dip – with all that mayo, it probably wasn’t a good idea to dip at the frequency that we were dipping …


Fish n Chips AUD 26 (HK$ 209)

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