I always loved eating out but now it's become an important part of life. I suppose I didn't appreciate the dining out experience as much as I did until the lockdown. Now, I am always actively looking for new restaurants to try. Even though not all of the restaurants are great, they still inspire me to jump into the kitchen and recreate their dish. These brown butter nuoc cham scallop rolls are my latest project based on my last dining experience. Pair a powerful Vietnamese-inspired sauce with sweet bay scallops, fresh peaches, pickled fresno, and spicy sambal aioli and you have one flavorful sandwich!
Brown Butter Nuoc Cham Scallop Rolls
- 2 lb bay scallops
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons sambal
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 6 sandwich rolls toasted
- 1 small cucumber halved and sliced
- 1 yellow peach chopped
- ¼ cup sliced pickled fresnos
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup basil leaves
- lime wedges for serving
- Pat dry baby scallops and lay in an even layer on a plate. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to heat butter until it turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Combine water, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add brown butter, stirring until combined. Set aside.
- Combine mayonnaise with sambal and sesame seeds, mixing until combined. Set aside.
- Melt 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium- heat. Add scallops, making not to overcrowd the pan, and cook until firm and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add brown butter nuoc cham, stirring to combine. Simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat.
- Arrange sandwiches. Spread sambal aioli on toasted rolls and arrange sliced cucumber on one side. Fill with scallops and top with chopped peach, pickled fresnos, fresh cilantro, and basil. Serve with lime wedges if desired.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
This brown butter nuoc cham scallop roll recipe is essentially a twist on banh mi. Banh mi usually has pickled vegetables, chili, a type of meat, and mayonnaise. I took those same elements but used seafood, and incorporated another Vietnamese element - nuoc cham.
Nuoc cham is a sweet, salty, tangy Vietnamese dipping sauce that I absolutely love. It can be tricky balancing the ingredients but when done right, it's quite beautiful.
Now take nuoc cham and add brown butter to the mix and you end up with a richer, nutty sauce. I mean brown butter and nuoc cham separately are fantastic but put them together and it's magic.
Now for the scallops. I tend to buy sea scallops but for these rolls, I thought bay scallops would be more appropriate. Bay scallops are much smaller and can be sweeter and more tender than sea scallops.
To cook the scallops, first, pat them dry with paper towels. Season them with salt and pepper, then sear them in a large saute pan until browned. They only take a couple of minutes to cook since they're so small. It's also harder to get an even sear because of their size, but as long as you get some sear, it's a win.
Add the brown butter nuoc cham and simmer together, allowing the seafood to soak in the flavors.
As for the toppings, we're including a pickled item, fresh herbs, and mayonnaise just like the traditional bahn mi. However, we're going to change it up just a little by using pickled fresno, sambal aioli, and adding fresh peaches.
Feel free to pickle the chilies up to a week in advance and make the aioli up to 3 days ahead.
Assemble the brown butter nuoc cham scallop rolls, stuffing toasted sandwich rolls with a good smear of spicy aioli, seared scallops, fresh herbs, pickled fresno, sliced cucumber, and chunks of peach. Yes, it's a lot to go to in one sandwich, but trust me, every ingredient adds to the dish.
Just looking at these scallop rolls made me happy. They're so colorful and they just look fun to eat! Fortunately, they taste great too. Every bite has a little sweet, salty, spicy, and tangy all in one. Now on to find my next inspiration!
For more seafood sandwich inspiration check out this crab croquette sandwich recipe!