Mar 22, 2021

Pepperoni Fried Rice with Scallops and Garlic Aioli

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Pan-fried crispy rice served tossed with cubes of spiced pepperoni and herbs, then flavored with tomato paste and topped with garlic aioli and scallops in this Italian-American-inspired spin on Spanish paella.

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Pepperoni is a smoky, slightly spicy American variety of salami with both cured beef and pork seasoned with spices like paprika. I buy pre-diced pepperoni or cut it myself rather than use the lay-flat thinly sliced pepperoni.

Like paella, this crispy rice is topped with a garlic aioli. Rather than making aioli from scratch with egg yolks and oil I opt for a short cut. I simply whisk a little olive oil into mayonnaise for a quick version of “aioli”. This recipe is inspired by a dish I had at my new favorite Italian place in the West Village of New York, Don Angie. 

When cooking with scallops look for “dry packed” as they won’t contain any preservatives or additives. I order from The Scallop Guys, a sustainable company based out of Boston with fresh and 100% natural Atlantic sea scallops. They come frozen, portioned out into individual packages for easy serving.

Day old rice is best for making crispy rice because it’s had time to dry out. If you use “just cooked” rice it will continue to steam rather than crisp up.

For a shortcut to make crispy rice on the  same day, spread the cooked rice out on a baking sheet then freeze for 10 to 15 minutes and then continue with the instructions below. 

Pepperoni Fried Rice with Scallops and Garlic Aioli

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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Serves 4


For the pepperoni fried rice:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups day old long-grain white rice
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 ounces pepperoni, cut into ¼” cubes
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ cup diced chives
  • (packed) )cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

For the garlic “aioli”:

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the scallops:

  • 1 pound dry-packed sea scallops
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


For the pepperoni fried rice:

  • Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and heat through. Add the rice in an even layer and cook, untouched, until the bottom is crispy and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes so each grain is crispy.
  • Add the shallots and cook until they are tender and no longer opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and pepperoni and cook, stirring occasionally until the pepperoni is slightly crisp, about an additional 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste and paprika, stirring to combine, and let cook for 2 minutes. Then turn the pan off the heat and stir in the chives and parsley.

For the garlic “aioli”:

  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayo, garlic and olive oil until fully combined then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the scallops:

  • Pull the side muscle off the scallops if needed and pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt. Add the scallops to the pan and let cook, untouched, until the underside is golden-brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the scallops from the pan and set aside.

For serving:

  • Ladle the crispy rice into bowls and top with dollops of the aioli. Divide the scallops and serve on top. Serve immediately.



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