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By: Chef Laura Bonicelli

I love pairing this dish with a simple Asian slaw on the side. Have your side dish complete; serve the scallops immediately.  Buy your ingredients at your favorite Farmers Market! 

Thai Scallops

About Thai Sea Scallops with Coconut Cream Sauce


Thai Sea Scallops with Coconut Cream Sauce is a recipe I’ve been thinking about writing for a while, but it wasn’t until one of my cooking club members asked if I had scallop recipes that I headed to the fish market. The timing is perfect; we’re working on Thai food in the cooking club, and I’m always up for seafood.

People shy away from cooking scallops at home, but they are quite simple to prepare. If there’s any danger, it’s in overcooking them. They cook in less than 5 minutes whether you’re searing, grilling, baking, broiling, or poaching them. We’re working with Sea Scallops, which are larger than Bay Scallops. They are considered a prize and perfect for the Thai Sea Scallops with Coconut Cream Sauce Recipe.

putting it together

I start the Thai Sea Scallop recipe by removing the side-muscle. Often the muscle is already washed away or requires a pinch to remove. Then, I recommend soaking the scallops in milk for an hour. This technique works on any fish. It removes the “fishy” odor and taste. Some fish, like salmon, only takes 20 minutes. Make sure you discard the milk.

I love the Thai Sea Scallops’ cream sauce because it takes less than 20 minutes to put together, yet it is so flavorful! Every ingredient has a reason for being in the mix. I considered doubling the sauce portion of the recipe, but it is quite rich. However, if you only make the dish for two people, half the amount of scallops, but I’d leave the sauce recipe as written. It would be difficult to cut in half, and I promise you’ll love the sauce.

As far as searing the Thai Sea Scallops, watch the directions closely. You can temp them if you like, but if the scallops brown and you pay attention to the time, you’ll be fine. Finally, I recommend having your table set, your side dish done, and the wine poured. Scallops are best directly from the pan to the table.

don’t forget

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scallops in milk
Coconut Cream Sauce

I hope you love this recipe! 

Buon Appetito!

Step by Step Instructions

Thai Sea Scallops

Thai Sea Scallops with Coconut Cream Sauce

© Chef Laura Bonicelli
I love pairing this dish with a simple Asian slaw on the side. Have your side dish complete; serve the scallops immediately.
4.75 from 4 votes

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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Dish - Fish and Seafood, MM-Blue
Cuisine Asian, Thai
Servings 4
Calories 636 kcal


  • 1 1/4 pounds large sea scallops
  • milk


  • 1 cup jasmine or sushi rice
  • 2 kaffir lime lives -- cut in half


  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar


  • 1 14 ounce can coconut cream -- coconut milk will work but will be thinner
  • 1 large lime -- zested and juiced
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass -- 4 to 5 inches smashed
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf sliced
  • 1 1- inch piece gingerroot finely sliced


  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce -- 3 shrimp or crab brand is my favorite
  • 1 Thai chili or any small hot red pepper seeded, and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice -- from reserved
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar -- brown sugar if palm sugar isn't available


  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 tablespoons coconut or canola oil


  • reserved lime zest
  • 1/3 cup finely sliced fresh basil and cilantro leaves -- optional


  • Remove the side-muscle from each scallop. The side-muscle is the little rectangular tag of tissue on the side of the scallop. Don't worry if you miss one; they are edible but tougher than the rest of the scallop. Just pinch it off and discard. (Sometimes, they wash away during harvesting.) Put your scallops in a non-reactive bowl and cover them with milk. Soak them for one hour. Cook your rice according to the manufacturer's directions adding lime leaves to the cooking water. Prepare all of your ingredients.
  • In a small saucepan, simmer the green onions in the vinegar over low heat until the vinegar is almost gone, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the coconut cream, half of the lime zest (reserve the rest for garnishing), the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and ginger. Simmer gently on low heat for 5 minutes. (Do not boil.) Stir in the fish sauce, the Thai chili, lime juice, and the palm sugar. Turn off the heat. Taste, and add more fish sauce, lime juice, or palm sugar if necessary. Set aside.
  • Remove the scallops from the milk and pat them dry with paper towels. Season them with salt and pepper.
  • In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. When hot, add the scallops leaving an inch between each of the scallops. If you don't get an immediate sizzle when you add your first scallop, the pan needs to heat longer. Work in batches if necessary to maintain the distance between the scallops. Sear the scallops for 3 minutes before turning. They should be browning. Sear on the second side for 2 minutes until the scallop is cooked just through Cook to an internal temperature of 115∫F--the residual heat will bring them up to 125∫F. When done, they will be firm but still soft. Set them on a plate and give them a drizzle of lime juice. Note: Scallops can overcook and become tough quickly.
  • Warm the sauce.
  • Divide the rice among four bowls. Top the rice with the scallops and spoon the lemongrass coconut cream sauce over the top, avoiding the lemongrass and large chunks of ginger. Top with fresh herb ribbons and the remaining lime zest.

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Calories: 636kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 24gFat: 38gSaturated Fat: 33gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 569mgPotassium: 707mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 13IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 3mg
Keyword coconut cream, fish sauce, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, scallops
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