Chili and Basil Scallops

A few months ago, I got an email from “John of Mighty Spice who lives in London” with a really nice message of, “hi, I’m a big fan, I love your blog, I wanna meet you.”

Well, not so blunt like that, it was way more eloquent, poetic and gentlemanly, as any proper Englishman would write. I replied, “Thanks John!” and a couple more generic, non-committal sentences – as um, anytime a handsome, young man emails me wishing to meet me in person, I sort of have an obligation to my husband to not accept random invitations from strangers.

John and I exchanged a few more emails, found out we have mutual friends – double checked back with the friends to make sure John was a-okay and for real (i.e. not stalker!) He checked out, so I finally said, “Okay, I’m speaking at Food Blogger Connect in London in a couple of months. Let’s meet there.”

We ended up actually having a chance to meet in person, over a quick Lebanese lunch and wow, did we have so much in common! We were both talking so fast and furious about food, cookbook, life, wine, travel and blogging that the lunch was over way too soon.

John had *just* come out with his very first cookbook, Mighty Spice and would be coming to America for a book tour. I invited him over to stay at our cottage and just hang out with the family. My boys *loved* Mr. John, and he became part of our family the moment he taught them how to speak with an English accent. 🙂

While John was here, I helped him with some television and radio gigs, intro’d him to some amazing people, like Rebecca Brooks, Janis my literary agent and my peeps at Momentum. I know you’ll see more of John – don’t believe me? Watch this pilot!

Mighty Spice Cookbook, , by John Gregory-Smith is available on Amazon!


Chocolate and Chickens with Steamy Kitchen

I have just finished a crazy book tour of America. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had and I can’t wait to return. My tour took me down to Florida, where for a few nights, I stayed at Steamy Kitchen HQ. I had met Jaden in London, where we chatted about all things delicious over a huge Lebanese feast. I arrived late on a Tuesday night and was greeted by, a then hobbling – due to a Taekwondo injury, Jaden, who had a glass of wine on hand to welcome her British guest! Scott had been on BBQ duty and we had an awesome dinner, with one amazing Kale and Cauliflower Salad. Jaden had arranged for me to make an appearance on Daytime TV, the following morning, and pointed out that I had come a bit underprepared – I had no equipment apart from my food, Doh! After a whip round the kitchen I was ready to rock and the show was a blast!

Jaden had started her epic vegetable garden, complete with real, live, flapping chickens. The guys took me for a closer look and it became very clear that I was useless at holding chickens! I live in central London and the only nature that comes my way is the occasional tree or what I find in the food market. Every time I was given one of the chickens to hold, they would sense my uselessness, flap off and carry on scratching away with their mates.

That night we had a delicious, alfresco Mexican dinner, complete with chicken, salsas, salads and yummy cheese. After dinner and a few beers my sweet tooth kicked in and I was in desperate need of some chocolate. Well, once again, staying with a high profile food blogger paid off. I was presented with a sack load of chocolate to eat – by the way, I ate all but a few squares, which I left in the little fridge, sorry!

The next day was a blur; up at 4am to catch a flight to Charlotte NC for a show, back to Tampa and 2 hour drive to Orlando to prepare for The Daily Buzz. It was so nice returning “home” to the Hair’s house, where we had a wonderful spaghetti and meatball dinner, with lots of lovely parmesan cheese! It was a delicious end to a wonderful few days.

Jaden, Scott, Nathan, Andrew and Coco thanks so much for having me, showing me the fish, turtles, chicken, for all the laughs and great food! Come over and see me soon in London!

In the meantime, enjoy this Chili and Basil Scallops recipe from my new book, Mighty Spice.

~John, Mighty Spice


Chili and Basil Scallops

Servings: serves 4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes
Chilli Scallop Recipe

Recipe by Mighty Spice Cookbook author, John Gregory-Smith

For many years my brother Tom has been a loyal eating companion of
mine, a wingman, who loves his food and is also real fun to go out with.
Annoyingly he’s moved to Hong Kong with his lovely wife Rachel to live,
which makes dinner a bit more difficult to organize. Tom’s first choice
whenever we do get to go out is something with scallops, so these
beautiful, Asian-inspired scallops are here to keep him happy. Now all
he has to do is cook them for me.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 pound 2 ounces scallops, with
or without roe attached
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black
2 large handfuls basil leaves, roughly


1) Heat the oil in a large wok over high heat. When smoking hot, chuck in the garlic
and red chilies and stir-fry 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the onion and stir-fry
1 minute, then tip in the scallops and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes longer, or until the
scallops start to turn golden at the edges.
2) Pour in the soy sauce and fish sauce and sprinkle in the sugar and black pepper. Mix
well and stir-fry 1 minute, or until the scallops are just cooked through and tender.
Throw in the basil leaves, mix well and serve immediately. You can use scallop shells
for presentation, if you like.

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Comments 20

  1. Lynn

    Wow!!! This guy is caliente and he sounds like a good guy from how you described him—uber-caliente. Plus he cooks! He seems to see the world in spice. =))

  2. Lia

    MAlaysian food!!! he made Kerabu!!! (ok, got excited for a min).. very nice 🙂
    (follow you on twitter & on the blog, 1st time commenting).
    Looking forward to seeing more of him too 🙂

  3. joey

    What an adorable guy! Thanks for sharing him with us all Jaden 😉 And those are yummy sounding scallops…will definitely be on the lookout in the market for some scallops now!

  4. QlinArt

    Love your story and encounters like that! Very captivating and yet a story we could all relate to, of course not with foodies but with other amazing people. I’m also in awe looking at the beautiful scallops. Your photography is spectacular! Must improve mine, but dropped my camera a couple of times. Great excuse to get myself another one with video ;). Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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  6. Allison

    Just made these tonight with Digby scallops, so delicious. Definitely recommend and will make again!

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  11. Marijana

    Hi! I made your scallop recipe today, it was a hit, I added ginger to it and it was delish. Even the sauce left over was used up as a bread dip. Thank you!

    1. Post
  12. angelitacarmelita

    I was able to get my hands on some fresh off the boat scallops and made this tonight with a few I had left and I am IN LOVE! Wow, this was amazing…… I can see trying to score some more of these scallops and doing this for friends. Really quick, and really, REALLY flavorable.

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