Thai scallop ceviche – Yum Hoy Shell


I’m calling this dish Thai Scallop Ceviche.  The “Thai” descriptor here is for the ceviche, as in Thai-style ceviche.  And not for the scallops, as in, these scallops are not from Thailand.  They are from the Northeast, actually, Nantucket Bay Scallops, to be precise.  Yes, yes, I know full well ceviche is a Peruvian preparation, but we do a very similar thing in Thailand.  We call it Yum.  Or Yum Talay.  And true to the name, it is quite yummy too, and easy besides.

The idea here is the same as the regular ceviche, that is to say the seafood takes a nice, long bath in lemon or lime juice to “cook”.  Let us not be confused though.  There’s no cooking happening here.  The citric acid in lime or lemon juice just change the texture and look of the seafood so they appear opaque and slightly firm and generally look like they’ve been “cooked”.  So I wouldn’t suggest this dish if you’re afraid of germs or parasites or all that peevish nonsense.  I read somewhere that if you’re afraid of raw ceviche you could get away with cooking the seafood very breifly in boiling water just to “cook” them slightly before making your ceviche.  Frankly I’m more than a bit dubious about this advice.  To a germ or parasite, passing just a few seconds through boiling water is like having a day at a Japanese Onsen.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to deal with germs that have just had a restorative day at a germ spa.

If you are a true germaphobe, you probably want to stop reading now. Or if you hate fish sauce, you might want to stop here too, because the key difference that makes this dish a Thai ceviche is the use of fish sauce and Thai birdeye chilli.  If you’re bottle of fish sauce is overwhelmingly strong, you could get away with using just a drop or two, and then adding a bit of salt to balance out the acidity in the dish.  I wouldn’t skip fish sauce completely though, because the savory umami quality of fish sace gives this dish the boost it needs to lift it from the bland to the extraordinary.

And if you think I’m going to give you a recipe here, you’d be wrong.  It’s so easy no self-respecting foodies will need a recipe to make it.  Trust me.  This amount I’m going to make will be enough as a small appetizer for, say 4 people. Or perhaps a quick lunch for 1

So you start by taking the scallops, oh about 2 cups or so worth, 3-400g or 8oz I’d say.  Put them in a small bowl and juice lime or lemon over them until the scallops are submerged in the juice.  You’ll need about 3 lemons or perhaps 5 limes.  Give them a gentle stir once to make sure all the scallops are in direct contact with the lime juice, then cover and let sit for about an hour.  While the scallops are marinating, cut up thin slices of cucumber, say about 1/4 cup worth, and one or two shallots, yes, in thin slices too.  Take one or two birdeye chillis, or four of five if being macho is that important to you, and cut them each lenthwise and scrape the seeds off.  Chop one of them finely, and set the other (or 3-4 other) aside.

When the scallops are almost ready, you can make the dressing.  Take about two more limes and juice them into a bowl, you should get about 3-4 tablespoons there.  Add a pinch of sugar and stir to mix.  Then take your fish sauce and add 1-2 tablespoons, just until you can smell the fish sauce but don’t let it get overwhelming.  Taste the dressing, if it’s still too acidic for you (which is likely), add more fish sauce (if you like the stink) or good sea salt (if you think it’s stinky enough) until the dressing is balanced.  I can’t really tell you how much lime juice or fish sauce to use here, as a balanced dressing for me may be too acidic for you.  You just have to trust your own instinct and palate.  Once you got the flavor you like, add the chopped chilli, a little bit at a time, until it’s spicy enough for you.  I like to add the whole chilli here too, as it’s really quite pretty in the final dish.  The whole chilli will add a bit of heat, but not nearly as much as the chopped ones.  So factor that in too.  Then add the shallot slices and toss to mix.

After the one hour mark, take the bowl with the marinating scallops and drain the lime juice from it.  Add the drained scallops to the dressing, toss well.  Add the cucumber slices and toss well too.  Taste it, see if you need a bit more fish sauce, or salt, or lime juice.  Transfer to a pretty bowl to serve, a handful of cilantro will do very well as garnish, or just skip them if you’re one of those who think they taste like soap – yes Wiley, I’m looking at you.

(The season for Nantucket Bay Scallops are waning now, but you can do this with regular, larger scallops.  I suggest slicing the large scallops into two or three thinner pieces to give them more surface contact with the lime juice marinade.  Or you can use the sweet Maine shrimp that’s in season now, and for these fabulous shrimps I’d toss directly in the dressing and skip the marinade altogether.)

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  • meleyna

    This looks fantastic for dinner tonight. Light and refreshing for our 90 degree weather!

  • kateik

    YUM! Silly germaphobes. I get similiar looks when I try and eat wild greens that grow in my back yard: “But dogs go to the bathroom there!”
    You’d miss out on good food.
    I love ceviche, but I am dubious of it in restaurants. I would prefer to make it myself (cheaper too).
    So thanks for the tip! And Thai flavors are DIVINE.

  • oakmonster

    You know, I never quite thought of Yum as a ceviche. But it is, isn’t it? LOL.

  • Laura [What I Like]

    I can almost taste this! I love how, during my very serious bout of spring fever, I’m coming across so many fresh and wonderful recipes. It makes me feel as though the warm weather is within reach.

  • Pim

    Yup. Well, this particular one at least – yum’s varieties are endless.

  • Pim

    It’s not quite in reach even in Northern California today. We’re soaking wet, and for a couple more days, at least.

  • Pim

    Where is this 90 degree weather? I must go there.

  • Pim

    I am as big a germaphobe as the next person, except for when it interferes with my foodie’s sensibility.

  • Angry Brit

    Germ spa! LOL! I’m so glad you posted this. I had an awesome ceviche a few months ago and I’ve been wanting to replicate it, but I think this is a better starting point. My least favourite food-related germaphobe nonsense is people who order well-done steak because they are afraid of parasites.

  • justin

    I love food, but I have never had ceviche before. The foodie in me says “Hey, this is something you’ve never tried….you know you wanna try it (in the tone of a baker teasing a fat kid with cake)” The other side of me says it formerly raw fish with its protein denaturized by an acid….yuck.
    I love your site Pim, but I don’t think I’m brave enough for ceviche yet……funny cuz I love sushi.

  • kim

    i can be in the crappiest mood and read your blog and laugh! thanks!

  • kt

    Ah, cooking is a state of mind. :-) This looks light, tasty and great – thanks for sharing it!

  • Gourmet Chick

    Sounds delicious Pim. I first had ceviche in Belize made on a sailing boat out of lobster that was plucked straight out of the sea half an hour earlier. It was amazing. Like sushi you can’t get away with anything but the freshest seafood for ceviche but it is really worth the effort.

  • Jonitin

    ceviçhe is not exclusively Peruvian,Ecuadorians,Mexicans and I am sure other cultures indulge?
    I had a wonderful ceviçhe in Ecuador with oysters,for breakfast!
    Yours does look yummy.

  • lesley

    Hi Pim,
    Got some gutsy flavours going on here!
    Much prefer these dishes to puddings, but that’s just me;0)

  • Barbra

    I love a good non-recipe. Our taste buds are often much more useful than measuring spoons. You’re right about the tiny Maine shrimp — they are perfect for ceviche.

  • Pink Sky

    Looks delicious!
    Some of us are germaphobes because of particular circumstances (I for one am currently pregnant, so I have to be a little more careful of what I eat…)
    But if I weren’t pregnant, I’d be having some ceviche this week – just because!

  • BaconGrease

    That really looks great right now. It’s been about a year since I made any, I like to use larger scallops and cut them into thin rounds, particularly if I’m making a mixed ceviche with other fish. Cucumbers should go great I’ve never added them.

  • Pim

    And they probably eat raw salmon at sushi bars…

  • Pim

    Not yuck at all. Try it once!

  • Pim

    I can be in the crappiest mood and sit down and write a blog post and laugh! So we are even!

  • Pim

    I knew I’d be caught on that one. ;-) Yes, sorry, I was just going for the most obvious one for us Northern Californian here.
    Oyster ceviche sounds great.

  • Pim

    Call me before you’re off sailing in Belize next time?

  • Pim

    Well, I wouldn’t forgo puddings for anything, but luckily I always have enough room at the end of the meal for them.

  • Pim

    I totally agree. We’ll all cook better if we taste the food rather than worrying about measuring precise amounts of this and that.

  • Pim

    Ah you have a point there. After the baby then!

  • Pim

    I like the crunch the cucumbers add to the dish.

  • Pim

    Oh yes it is.

  • cate

    this could convert me to scallops. i’ve tried to like them, truly, and haven’t yet — but maybe this will work. after all, if it SOUNDS good to eat, it must be my problem, not the scallop’s.

  • Mark Scarbrough

    Such a nice recipe. I recently went to an all-ceviche restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky–of all places. And was singularly unimpressed. I’m wondering if mirin would work in place of the sugar for a little brightness as well as sweetness.

  • OysterCulture

    This dish sounds wonderfully refreshing. Are there any traditional accompanyments that go with it?

  • Paula Maack

    Mmmmm… Yum dishes are among my favorite Thai dishes!
    This recipe sounds delicious. Thanks Pim, I can’t wait to try it!
    ~ Paula

  • Claudia

    Dear Pim,
    This is a fantastic recipe. I love ceviches and never tried with scallops, I must do it as soon as I find some fresh scallops.
    Regarding one of previous posts, the hazelnut bites, well, I can’t even think of comparing you with DB. You are of a much superior matter. I don’t buy cookbooks, once or twice every two years maybe. I just don’t think they are absolutely necessary, don’t understand how people buy so many. Anyway, I can’t wait to buy your first book because it is people like you we are looking for.
    You have that magical twist, it is maybe the east/west, sweet/sour, old/modern, delicate/strong thing in you that creates an atmosphere of originality and attracts us.
    I never comment, but you blog is fantastic.

  • pillow

    This sounds amazing. I’ve never tried ceviche – but I think I will. Everyone seems so confident that it’s silly to be worried about germs, the peer pressure has one me over!

  • Jonathan Mendez

    hi I do not speak English but know in your blog Geografith National and visit this very good so I have continued felicidades 16 years and I’m from venezuela and my website is hope you visit it thanks ..

  • zerrin

    I wish I could find scallops here. I just want to try.

  • Keri Hulme

    Hey, I love this recipe! I dote on all fresh kaimoana/seafood, and the molluscs are especial for me (except grown octopi…)
    I’d never thought of adding cucumber to a scallop ceviche! Brillant!
    As you know, ika ota(the Tahitian form of ceviche) is found throughout the Pacific.
    I’m Maori, from ANZ, and because the climate here couldnt grow Pacific-type citrus, we
    just went back to eating fish – raw…
    Not any longer! (or, at least, not majorly.)
    Parasites: yep, there are nasties. If people are really worried about them, FREEZE the fish/mollusc overnight. It doesnt dramatically
    change the taste (I routinely this with my crayfish, for humane reasons)and it does kill off fishworms and other nasties…
    And, thanks for the site Pim!
    Cheers n/n Keri

  • Jimmy-in-Seattle

    Pimmy…I was just thinking of of u yesterday!..’I wonder what happened 2 her?’ Then there u r…That’s an interesting, odd, and unique photo. I like it…The recipe was a bit of a yawner comming from u…Were u taking a break? Or were u suffering from writers block?


    Yum Hoi! Love it-we make a dressing much like for Som Tum with fresh lime juice, good fish sauce (Golden Boy), slivers of fresh young bai magroot leaves, birdseye chiles for sure and scallops, shrimp, fresh white fish melange of these or just one. Fresh Monterey calamari works great too. Slivers of green mango or papaya are also great, but cucumber is more refreshing.
    Most of the scallops we get here in SF area have been frozen, same with the shrimp so parasites be dead! :-) Fresh are always best but far more difficult to find. I do get them at Walnut Creek Yacht Club as Chef Wienberg’s brother (Osprey) delivers them daily.

  • umami madrid’s

    Hi Pim,
    Very interesting recipe, I love the thai touch. I love ceviche, but I like it much better if it’s cooked for a shorter time. peruvian’s ceviches nowadays are cooked on the lime for less than 1 minutes, just until the outside of the fish’s flesh turns opaque and the inside retains all the juices. the fish’s flesh is more moist and the texture is amazing. on the other hand, the acid of the lime creates an environment that increases the growth and reproduction to the anisakis, the main problem you could have with raw fish. in order to kill the anisakis, you should freeze the fish for at least 2 days (I personally don’t do it because the fish also looses water and shininess)
    Best regards,
    Umami Madrid’s

  • calabria property

    What a fabulous dish…..with a superb Thai twist.
    Great taste combination!!

  • Sonja

    Lovely recipe! And I love your reference to the Japanese Onsen…

  • Joie de vivre

    Raw all the way for me! Looks fantastic.

  • mcdermant

    I had a great Sea Urchin ceviche at Dorsia in New York, any idea how the acid doesn’t immediately start breaking down the Uni?

  • Venus

    Oh my goodness! The first picture was so good that it made me want to run out and buy some scallops for this immediately. Incidentally, I think I have the scallops already so maybe I just need to go pick some lemons or limes. Is it really that easy to make? I read your blog a long time ago after seeing you on Food Network judging an episode of Iron Chef but then lost it among many bookmarked sites and blogs. I have to make sure I stop by regularly as my own love of cooking has been flailing lately and needs a revival. Love your pictures and the way you make food into a story.

  • pamwest

    So simple but delightful.

  • Chez Us

    I love ceviche – have never made it but have wanted too! You make this dish sound so simple!

  • heidi leon

    Wonderful non-recipe Pim.
    Being myself a mexican girl, ceviches (or cebiches) are just natural for us.No fuss at all. I was raised eating raw fish and seafood all my life and I think I’m just OK…haha. Maybe we should be more concerned about other things than this raw food phobia we have.
    And yes the key for good ceviche is to use the freshest fish/seafood.

  • Pim

    Hmm, if you’ve never tried scallops I’m not sure if you want to start with a ceviche? Perhaps just a plate nice seared scallop with a simple lemon vinaigrette?

  • Pim

    Of all places, totally! Mirin would work beautifully, I’m sure.

  • Pim

    Not really, but in Thailand most of these spicy Yum salads are eaten when drinking Thai whisky ;-)

  • Pim

    I love Yum too, they are actually good diet food. Somebody should come up with an all Yum diet – tastier than the cabbage soup one for sure.

  • Pim

    Thanks for the lovely comment. Let me know when you try this.
    David is a great friend of mine, I have the highest respect for him, and his books are truly great.
    My book will be out later this year, I’ll make sure you know when it’s here!

  • Pim

    Hooray to peer pressure!

  • Pim

    Where is “here”? You can’t find scallops?

  • Pim

    I’d love to see a Maori recipe for something like ceviche. Would you share one?

  • Fa

    Dear Pim, this dish was a real success with my friends! Easy and sooooo good! Thanks a lot! I’ll like to try it with another kind of fish as well. Thai ceviche or Peruvian ceviche…difficult to say which one is better!

  • George

    Your blog rocks – I just luv all kinds of asian and thai food. I first found your blog searching for a good pad thai recipe – after many failures. I still use it!
    I was just thinking tonight about putting together some sort of glass noodle shrimp soup concoction (no 90 degress in Pennsylvania yet!), and thought i’d visit you to see what was cookin’. This sounds awesome.
    Total aside, but who do you use to host your blog? Just curious in case I get around to it …

  • frontier

    I cannot agree more, actually I wrote a similar post weeks ago
    Frontier Blog – No one ahead, no one behind

  • chinesefoodrecipes

    hello,your Thai scallop ceviche is so cool,i really like it very much.I am also a chinese food amateur and have collected many chinese food recipes in my site with many pictures.If you like it,please feel free to contact me,’cause I wanna make friend with you:)

  • Tyro @ easycomfortfoods

    Ceviche, I’ve heard the term several times, but never wondered what it exactly was.
    Oh my! This sounds delicious, me and my spouse are sushi addicts, this recipe will make the perfect appetizer for our next sushi feast.
    Thank you so much!

  • OysterCulture

    Sounds like the perfect combination

  • Bridget Klest

    My friends and I really liked this article. It was very descriptive and worked out just like you said. Have you been to ( ). They have a bunch of articles on there. You can link your webpage to it so it drives traffic to your website to. They also give you a list of articles that have something in common with yours so you can get some new ideas.

  • Keri Hulme

    Kia ora – still learning the ways of the site, so please excuse flubs.
    E Pim-
    the only specifically Maori version of ika ota/ ceviche I know of, dates from the early 1970s (when coconut cream became relatively readily available here in Aotearoa-NZ.
    You need, per person:
    1/2 cup of thinly sliced red onion rings
    3/4 cup just-cooked green peas (cold)
    * a boned diced fillet of *very* fresh kahawai (bled) – caught within the half hour is great! (about one pound of fish)
    3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    seasonings according to your taste (salt, white pepper, chilli powder)
    Note: kahawai are a very prolific schooling fish here, and will take pretty well any kind of lure or shiney bait when they’re shoaling. They are fatrich, and very tasty (when treated properly e.g *dont* fry ‘em!)
    2 medium steamed kumara, diced
    1 cup coconut cream (fresh made is best but the tinned stuff is also OK-)
    1: marinate the kahawai in lemon juice for about an hour
    2: drain
    3: combine with all other ingredients, seasoned according to your taste-
    A, kanui te reka o tenei kai!

  • Heidi / Savory Tv

    Interesting, I thought there actually was a cooking process involved with the ceviche.
    I hope you are enjoying Pebble Beach and look forward to your updates!

  • Alex Moncada

    Ceviche is a preparation que is done all thru latin america, Peruvians and Ecuadorians are among the best for preparing it they use aji amarillo (yellow chilli powder) and red onions, their reputations comes from that having a coastline in some of the richest in seafood species has made them specialists btu again just to clarify this is done all over the Americas (latin america that is)



  • Phil Younger

    Mussels, scallops and clams? Drolling..

  • Magnus Adventures

    Beautiful and healthy.

  • Anniversary Champagne Gift

    How about adding a little champagne…

  • pills

    Thanks Pim for this blog and your work

  • Tiffany

    Adding the fish sauce to my ceviche dish makes it so yummy. Thanks!

  • pekiki

    Hi! Pim, I’m a new fan in the shadow side from Thailand. I’m just coming and discover your blog, sorry to be late. Anyway I love everything here, your every food-shots are great, it’s make me Chezzz. And I already got your The Foodie Handbook, love it.

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