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Lapsang Souchong Sea Scallops With Asian Alaw

Larry Kirkland, one of the most inventive cooks I know, developed this delicious recipe for marinating sea scallops in an aromatic brew of Lapsang Souchong tea. The tea imparts its marvelous smoky flavor to the seallops In this recipe, the scallops serve as a first course and are accompanied with a crisp Asian slaw.

To prepare the scallops: In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the tea leaves. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the tea, discarding the leaves, and set aside to cool.

Place the scallops in a glass baking dish and cover with the cooled tea. Marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the scallops and pat dry on paper towels. Reserve the tea.

Pour the reserved tea into a 12-inch soup kettle, wok, or skillet. Place a steamer rack (or jerry-rig a cake rack) in the skillet, making sure the rack does not touch the liquid Bring the tea to a full boil. Place the scallops on the rack, cover with a tight lid, and steam for 7 minutes. Remove the scallops and set aside.

To prepare the dressing: In a small jar with a lid, combine the water and sugar. Shake until the sugar dissolves. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, and garlic. Cover and shake. Makes about 2/3 cup.

To prepare the slaw: In a salad bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, onion, mint, and basil together until blended. Add dressing to taste.

To serve, place 2/3 to 3/4 cup slaw on each of 4small plates, Garnish with chopped nuts. Arrange 2 or 3 scallops on the plate and garnish with whole mint or basil leaves and a thin wedge of lime.