Scallop stir-fry

Scallop stir-fry: With this dish, we're putting scallops in a stir-fry that creates a sauce with vermouth, soy and hoisin sauce (the latter is sold in the Asian aisles of most supermarkets). (Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune)

When sea scallops are on sale, it's an opportunity to enjoy their velvety texture and delicious flavor. They cook quickly and their mild flavor pairs nicely with a variety of ingredients.

Here we're putting them in a stir-fry that creates a sauce with vermouth, soy and hoisin sauce (the latter is sold in the Asian aisles of most supermarkets).

Any kind of noodle -- rice noodles or even spaghetti or vermicelli -- could replace the rice. And if you have peanut or sesame oil in the pantry, substitute 1 tablespoon of either for half of the vegetable oil for additional flavor.

Tips: Have cooked rice ready when you need it: Take home leftovers when you're dining at an Asian restaurant and freeze them. Tiny bay scallops are cheaper and could substitute for the sea scallops. So could shrimp.

Scallop stir-fry

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vermouth, mirin or white wine
2 tablespoons each: low-sodium soy sauce, hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 package (16 ounces) frozen sea scallops, thawed, patted dry
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 each, thinly sliced: large onion, large jalapeno, large bell pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup uncooked instant or microwaveable rice, prepared according to package directions
1/4 cup each, optional: chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro

1. Combine the vermouth, soy sauce and hoisin sauce in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat; season scallops with salt and pepper to taste. Add scallops to pan in a single layer; cook, turning halfway through, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove scallops from pan.

3. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan; add the onion and jalapeno. Stir-fry until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper, mushrooms and half of the soy-hoisin sauce; stir-fry until pepper softens, about 3 minutes.

4. Stir in the reserved scallops, water chestnuts and remaining sauce. Stir-fry until ingredients have warmed through, about 1 minute. Divide rice among four plates; top with scallop mixture. Pass the peanuts and cilantro at the table.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 288 calories, 27% of calories from fat, 8.6 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 38 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrates, 23 g protein, 807 mg sodium, 3.3 g fiber.