Scallop Salad with Sweet Vanilla Chili Dressing

Scallop Salad with Sweet Vanilla Chili Dressing

Andrew and I arrived home safely late Monday night. Our trip to Los Angeles was full of Mom’s home cooking – we had Chinese hot pot, fried garlic chili crab, chicken noodle soup with rice noodles, homemade XO chili sauce, and Hainan steamed chicken. Oh it was heavenly and I ate like a madwoman. These trips back to Mom are essential to restoring my inner Asian balance.

Our flight to Los Angeles left super early from the Tampa airport, which is about an hour away. Since we rushed out of the house at 5am, I left dishes unwashed in the dishwasher from the night before. All my energy was focused on getting to the airport on time and making sure that I didn’t pack my normal purse contents of hand lotion, hair spray, bottled water, weed killer, self-inflating rafts, bacterial cultures, bleach and rodent poison.You know, anything that could potentially be used as a weapon.

Back off, bucko, I can hurt you with my hand lotion. It’s LAVENDER SCENTED WITH EXTRA ALOE.

Curiously, a book of matches and a lighter are permitted on flights. Hmmmm…..I wonder which government employee had a bottle of scotch under his desk while writing the rules?

So anyways, every night in L.A. at 8pm, I’d call back to talk with Scott and say goodnight to Nathan over the phone. Being the resident cook and nutritionist in the household, I naturally would ask Scott what he fed our little child while I was gone. Scott would rattle off a list of food items, and made extra effort to tell me about the bounty of food items that were a color other than BEIGE.

“Ahhh….good. Well, I’m happy that you are feeding Nathan well,” and with that, I had happy dreams of my husband in the kitchen, cooking a wonderful meal for himself and my precious 3-year old. They would sit down together at the dinner table every evening with soft Christmas music playing, eating wholesome foods and discussing the highlights of the day, like what animals did you learn about at school.

Monday night when I arrived at home, I noticed the kitchen was spotless. No dirty dishes in the sink, no clean dishes that needed to be put away. Totally spotless. I smiled smugly, thinking, “What a loving husband…making sure that I came home to a clean house.”

I opened the dishwasher and GASP!!!Β  The dishes in the dishwasher were dirty and THE EXACT SAME DISHES USED FOR DINNER THE NIGHT BEFORE I LEFT.

So, giving my dear husband the benefit of doubt, I’m going with 2 options here.

SCENARIO A: Scott and Nathan had for dinner the exact same menu that we had a week ago. A menu that included:
2 steak knives, one of them used to smear butter, the other to cut steak
4 large plates, each with a trace of homemade demi-glace and port reduction
6 glasses, one with red lipstick
3 salad plates, one with an arugula leaf stuck to the back
whisk coated with my special homemade poppy seed salad dressing

SCENARIO B: They ate out every single night.

hmmmmm……because I can totally see Scott, whose ‘default’ food is takeout pizza and microwaved chicken nuggets, standing over the hot stovetop, making demi-glace.

Well, next time I think I leave town, I might just pre-make food, freeze them in individual servings, wrap in colorful cardboard with directions to nuke. πŸ˜‰

Scallop Salad with Sweet Vanilla Chili Dressing

Scallop Salad with Sweet Vanilla Chili Dressing

This salad dressing recipe was adapted from a book called Asian Tapas by Christophe Megel and Anton Kilayko. I’m so in love with this dressing that I made it for my Fried Green Tomato Salad and then added just a touch of vanilla to it for this recipe. Sweet chili sauce and vanilla is an unexpected pairing, but WOW, does it work well together. Add scallops to the salad and you have a nice, light and healthy meal.



Los Angeles Cooking Classes

Thank you Epicurean School of Culinary Arts for hosting my classes!! And a big thank you to all the students who attended, especially Jenny who came to both classes. I had a blast meeting so many of you in person. If you’re in Los Angeles, stop by Epicurean on the corner of La Cienega and Melrose and pick up a class schedule. Owner Tina and her staff are so incredibly warm and welcoming. They’ve asked me to come back and teach in a couple of months – I’ll keep you posted.

OMG! I’m now only 1 degree away from Rocco. He’s been to Epicurean to shoot something for TV!


Thank you for your votes!

at Well Fed, but sadly, I didn’t win the Best New Blog (sniff sniff) but congrats to French Laundry at Home for winning both Best New Blog and Best Humor! Go check her out! Anyone who can cook an entire foie gras and shaved truffles certainly deserves a round of applause!

As for the other categories that I *really* didn’t deserve to be in, like Best Photography (I mean, who could go against Bea at La Tartine Gourmande, my photog idol?!) and Best Writing (I so heart Bittersweet Blog‘s colorful knitting!), well maybe next year.

But still, I’m celebrating anyways and buying myself a new pair of hot-red 4″ hooker heels so that I can dance like this because I am THIS CLOSE TO A REALLY COOL ANNOUNCEMENT. And no, I’m NOT pregnant.

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Comments 46

  1. Suji

    wait, scott gets away for leaving dishwasher like that. I must not let Prabu read this post then ;).

    Glad you had fun at moms. They seem to somehow know the secret to make the best food in the world.

  2. Jen

    ok, girl…’fess up. is that sweet chili sauce the little taste of heaven that i’ve been hoarding in my fridge like it’s gold??? That is the best sauce I’ve EVER EVER had. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I was like a kid who had her first taste of ice cream!

    Those were fantastic classes!! I can’t wait for the next one!! thanks again!

  3. Husband

    Drats! I’ve been busted!

    Though I think she failed to notice that the stack of paper plates and plastic cutlery was greatly diminished. Disposable tablewear became the norm for us temporary bachelors! Being banned from the kitchen normally, I would have had to search hours and hours for simple cooking utensils, let alone spices and other cooking supplies. (God forbid that I even move one jar of thai spice or olive oil – she checks the dust marks on the shelf!) But I think we survived the week ok. πŸ˜‰

  4. cara db

    Just take a picture of the shoes when you’ve got them, please.

    also I recently got busted for opening a can of frosting which had been in the cupboard for three weeks. My darling knew because although I put it back in the right cupboard in the right spot, the label was ten degrees off center …

  5. Neece

    Hmm.. that is definitely food for thought! Doesn’t your dear wonderful husband know you can’t hide secrets like that? πŸ˜› Wives can always find out the truth!
    The dressing sounds fascinating, the combination of sweet and hot is very intriguing. πŸ™‚ You always bring something great to the table.

  6. sugarlaws

    Hahaha! i think i would prefer the idea of my husband eating take-out to the idea that he has been drinking wine while wearing red lipstick!

  7. Ellie

    Those scallops sound utterly divine! As for your husbands eating during your time away…heh, sounds like my pops, which is why when both my mother and I are out while he’s at home, we have to make sure the fridge is well stocked with meals and snacks otherwise he’ll just eat big macs (shudder) morning, noon and night! πŸ™

    P.S. blog header looks much better πŸ˜‰

  8. Kat

    glad that the classes went well, but sorry to hear you’ll need to re-program the eating habits of your “two boys” πŸ™‚ these scallops look fabulous.

  9. darlene

    When I leave Hubby and Sonny alone for any number of days, I’m just happy they’re both still alive when I get home. Whatever means they used to sustain themselves is their business. It’s their free pass, so to speak.

    I toyed with the idea of making nutrious food before leaving but they probably wouldn’t eat it.

  10. Carol Herman

    Oh, Jaden, those polls are “fudged.” Winners have a way, like politicians, of bringing on board the professional voters.

    And, yes, I went and looked at the winners, because you graciously gave everyone reading, a link.

    But, you’re the BEST!

    You not only talk about food, you talk about Andrew, Matthew and Scott. Where your writing captures something better than “normal.”

    Most of us get stories from shrinks. Or Woody Allen doing one of his “family gatherings.” Where’s the humor? Where’s the joy? In that?

    Jaden, your blog is my absolute favorite! And, now that I get your emails, WOW.

    You can be sure I’m gonna forward your Steamy Kitchen to my own son! What an idea! Adding the innards of a cut open vanilla bean, to the chili recipe. And, then, for a vehicle, using scallops. A treat! A treat! A treat!

    Right now, I’m reading Judith Jones THE TENTH MUSE. Her start? “She ran away from home” … to paris … in 1948. Oh, and she met this terrific man (Evan Jones). And, she stays in Paris. They eventually get married. She’s the lady who “finds” the Anne Frank Diary. And, then, back in the USA, she’s hired by Knoff to be an editor. In a man’s world! And, she’s the permoter of Julia Child’s book.

    In between her pages, lots of stories; about how we went from “home economics” … to America’s love for adopting good food. (From France to China. And, in the Mideast, she’s the first fan Claudia Roden, has.)

    Today’s world is the NET. No longer are things found “the old fashioned way.”

    Keep up at what you’re doing. You are by far a wonderful, and unique voice. I love the way you captured your trip “back home to mom.” And, nobody had to be a detective to know that the “dishes would still be there, inside the dishwasher.”

    Perhaps? You could use one of those funny buttons? It says “dirty” … to remind you to clean the dishes you’ve put inside. (How this works, I do not know! Because I load to the machine has no spaces left … given I can always throw in by top stove “burners” … if there’s room. And, then, I plunk a pellet into the tray. Push the button that says “start.” And, go to sleep.

    Who has to rush putting away clean dishes? It’s like having an extra closet.

    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful story! CAROL HERMAN

  11. LunaPierCook

    Scenario C: Like me, Scott not only cooked every night but was also consciensious enough to not use the dishwasher when cleaning up, and subsequently never opened the darned thing, while Jaden really should have started a wash cycle prior to leaving just-in-case Scott decided to wash dishes by hand. πŸ˜€

  12. joanne

    I’m leaving Friday 4:30am for a 7am flight back to my parents. Plus I gotta deal with a surly 12 year old. Going back home to my parents, always means I gain at least 5 lbs. I always lose it within 2 weeks of coming home. No one says no when my mom is pushing food. I left my husband for 3 weeks this summer, and I came back to a fatter husband, and fat -skinny dogs. Have you ever seen an Italian greyhound with fat rolls around it’s neck? My dog got a puffy butt from too many steaks. No skinny jeans for her. Here’s another question. When you go away do you try and sterilize the house to come back, and have the need to sterilize immediately, because the bathroom doesn’t pass muster?

  13. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy

    I feel for you Jaden, and I can totally relate. I recently came back from 2 weeks in Orlando. My mom had major surgery and I took care of her while she was convalescing. When I came home, the same big stock pot that I used to make pasta the night before I left was still sitting on the stove…with the same water in it!!! Ugh! You don’t even want to know about the laundry room. It looked like The Gap vomited in there!

  14. Chris

    I went away for a month. Hubby and kids were still alive when I got home but not the head of broccoli..still in the same bag that I left it in in the crisper drawer of the fridge! Yup, like your hubby, mine didn’t cook at all! The kids were happy though relating the fact that all they had to do every nite for dinner was to tell Dad what takeout/pizza to get! Oh well…

  15. daphne

    will store this in my head for future reference (the hubby cooking thing!)

    Having said that, bet he misses your cooking while u r away. The scallops and salad looks amazing!

  16. Marvin

    I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for your really cool announcement! What is it? A new line of Steamy Kitchen aprons? No, it must be bigger than that! A better cookbook deal? Cooking show?

  17. Terry B

    This looks gorgeous and sounds intriguing. I’m curious about the vanilla. Does it really announce itself as a flavor in the dressing, or does it just add mystery and depth to it?

  18. Nate


    Annie expects me to wash up when she cooks. So I have no excuse for leaving anything dirty in the sink. Who does the dishes when you cook?

  19. veron

    i never thought of adding vanilla to a salad dressing…very interesting. But can’t wait for your news, Jaden…are you going to be on Network Television?

  20. Lynn

    I was totally shocked when I did not see your name in the winner’s column. I was going to write, hoping that you had a good friend to take you shoe shopping. I’m glad to see you’ve got that covered.

    Just in case your ego is feeling a wee bitty bit bruised, I want to reassure you that you’re awesome and much appreciated.

  21. Cathie

    This scallop dish looks divine. I can’t wait to try it!
    ps. my kids only eat beige food – try as I might to get them to eat some greens!!!

  22. Kevin

    That looks so good! Great photos! Vanilla and sweet chili sauce sounds like a really interesting combo. I will have to try it.

  23. Kaykat

    Ok, I’m wide awake now! Tell me the news! NOW! πŸ™‚

    P.S. I really wouldn’t mind it if you shipped me some vanilla+sweet chili sauce!

  24. flat Betty

    wow! what a great blog! Thanks for stopping by and checking out my latest adventures! Maybe Betty could stop by for a visit and get a “taste” of the good life!

  25. Single Guy Chef

    Wow, I wouldn’t think of vanilla and chili as a combo either. But I’m definitely going to try once I save up to buy a vanilla bean! πŸ˜‰

    BTW, you shouldn’t be too mad at your husband and kids. Remember what you were eating while you were gone! πŸ™‚

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