Sunday, June 5, 2011

Grilled Scallops On A Stick

Why is food on a stick so fun?  I don't know but it is.

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of On A Stick! 80 Party-Perfect Recipes ($16.95) by Matt Armendariz for review from Quirk Books.  Yes THAT Matt with mad photography skills from the world famous food blog Matt Bites.  (For the record, Matt does not actually bite, he just has a loud bark.)
On A Stick! on sticks....gee Chris, you're so clever....not.

On A Stick! is more than a collection of shish kebab recipes.  It is an exploration of party foods on a stick, both sweet and savory.  Of course, there are the more traditional satays and yakatori.  But there are also unexpected items like Spaghetti On A Stick and Chicken and Waffles.  The line up of sweet stick foods will surely blow you away.  Chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick?  Check!  Deep Fried Candy Bars?  Yep.  Red and White Sangria Pops?  Yes, please!

Matt presents the recipes from the perspective of entertaining guests.  Each recipe includes a full page, stunning photograph that gives you a flood of ideas on how to serve party food.  Matt shows small little styling tricks that make the food pop off of the plate with color, texture, and flavor.  If you are doing any food entertaining this summer, On A Stick! will give you everything you need to know to create the perfect tasting menu.  

The two things I like best about this book are it's variety of cooking techniques and it's inspirational nature.  For stick food, it would be easy to be 100% about grilling, right?  But no.  On A Stick! balances grilling, deep frying, freezing, dipping in chocolate (yes, that counts as a cooking technique), and using fresh raw ingredients.  While the recipes are solid and easy to follow, this is also the kind of book where you can thumb through it for 15 minutes, put it down and go make something similar inspired by things you saw in the book.  

For example, I made this easy recipe based on several recipes from On A Stick!
grilled scallop skewer with sweet chile sauce, Big Green Egg scallops, grill dome scallops

Grilled Scallops with Sweet Chili Sauce
inspired by On A Stick!
Serves 4 main or 8 appetizers

1 lb Scallops
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red plum jelly
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 tsp mirin 
1 Tbsp cornstarch 
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

In a small sauce pan, heat the vinegar, sugar, and jelly until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the garlic, Sriracha sauce, and mirin and simmer for 5 minutes.

Whisk the cornstarch and cold water together.  Add into the sauce mixture, whisking until thickened to a sauce consistency.  Remove from heat, add the cilantro and let cool for 1 hour.

Set up your grill for direct grilling over high heat.  Here I am using a highly technical method taught by Neil "Big Mista" Strawder on the Ultimate BBQ Showdown on CBS last weekend.  "I'm putting this charcoal in a geometrical shape....called a pile."

fiery coals, charcoal grill, Kingsford
My Bodom Picnic grill that I got from Kingsford University this year.

Scallops are delicate so you want to make sure your grates are thoroughly clean, preheated, and well oiled or seasoned. Otherwise, your scallops will definitely stick and tear.  Here I'm using Craycort cast iron grates which are well seasoned.  If you are using stainless or porcelain grates, moisten a towel with oil and rub it on the grates about a minute before grilling. I had the grates over the flame for a good 10-15 minutes before starting to cook.

Bodum Fyrkat craycort cast iron grate

Place your scallops on skewers.  I like to use the double skewer technique, this keeps the scallops from spinning when you flip them.  Great for shrimp too.  Season the scallops with a few pinches of sea salt.

Grill over high heat for 2 minutes per side.
grilled scallop skewer with sweet chile sauce, Big Green Egg scallops, grill dome scallops
Stick tip:  Use a heat shield like this to keep from burning your skewers.

Garnish with cilantro and a drizzle of the chili sauce.  Serve with extra dipping sauce.

[Standard Disclosure]  I received my review copy of On A Stick! from Quirk Books at no cost.  The statements are all my own, I didn't even read the press release they sent with it. 


  1. I no longer own a grill, but I do enjoy your posts. I dabble with my stovetop grill from time to time and can some decent results. Keep the fun coming.

  2. You make it look so easy, what a lovely way to prepare of my favorites.

  3. Looks good to me Chris and speaking of food on a stick - Beijing China's Donghuamen Night Market must be the top of the pile as you can get nearly everything cooked on a stick - most of which I wouldn't consider eating -

  4. I love things "on a stick" and never even thought about on TWO sticks. Nice trick for keeping things stable!

  5. Man..I totally need to get on board and cook with charcoal. I am the griller in the house and only cock with gas...I know probably the lazy mans grilling. These look amazing. Sticks make everything better

  6. You are right... I would love this book. The scallops look PERFECT!

  7. A long time coming for scallops on my grill, and I never thought of covering up part of the grill to maintain the integrity of the sticks! Soaking them, but they still dry out quickly...

  8. After seeing so many scallops screwed up on Top Chef, I'd be afraid to ever attempt cooking one.

  9. What is it about sticks and skewers that make everything taste better? The scallops look incredible, Chris! I love that little grill you are using!

    Kim in MD

  10. Those scallops look soooooo good! I love food on a stick!It is fun!!1

  11. Like you need a book to grill scallops. You should write that book! GREG

  12. i have got to check that book out, it sounds like so much fun. these look amazing, i love scallops, but have never had them grilled, yum!

  13. You will soon be my wife's hero with this one.

  14. This looks have a lovely blog...I am having a giveaway in my blog..Y dont you check and join that

  15. I made a few of the recipes from this book this weekend for a dinner party I was cooking for and everything was a HUGE hit! There's is definitely something infinitely more fun about eating food off a stick. I have a feeling Freud would have a field day with that idea. But still. There it is.

  16. Matt's cookbook has been on my Amazon wish list since it was announced. High time I go buy the thing. Love scallops but never thought to do them over the bbq.

  17. what interesting flavor combinations for the sauce! I love Matt and this is a killer idea for a book: why had I not thought about it??? right?

  18. Delicious!! Thanks for linking this up at the beach party - glad the linky thing didn't hate you this time ;-)


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