RECIPES:
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. 

Pepperoni Fried Rice with Scallops and Garlic Aioli

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Pepperoni – Pepperoni is an American version of salami made with cured pork and beef and spiced with paprika and chili powder which give it that signature deep red color. Look for sticks of pepperoni for this recipe – the pre-sliced version will be too thin in this recipe. It should resemble diced pancetta.
  • Scallops – 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.
  • Rice – 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.
  • Tomato paste – Tomato paste is concentrated tomatoes that have been cooked down until it becomes a thick, dense paste. I try to buy tubes of tomato paste rather than small cans. The tubes allow you to reseal and keep the paste for later (they last a long time) resulting in less waste.
  • Shallot – Shallots have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. If needed yellow or red onion can be swapped in. The general rule of thumb is 3 medium shallots equal 1 medium onion.

Why Use Day Old Rice?

Day old rice is optimal for cooking fried rice since it has dried out a bit. When making fried rice the goal is to fry it so it’s a bit crispy and absorbs the rice rather than steaming it to the point that it is mushy. While day-old rice isn’t required it definitely makes for the best texture. In this recipe the rice is crisped in the remaining pork fat.

If you don’t have leftover rice you can mimic the dried rice by spreading the cooked rice in an even layer on a baking sheet and refrigerating it for an hour or freezing it for about 15 minutes to 30 minutes. This shortcut will draw the moisture out while saving time.

How to Make Pepperoni Fried Rice

  1. Crisp the 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.
  2. Cook the pepperoni. 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.
  3. Add the tomato paste and spices. 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.
  4. Make 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.
  5. Prep 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.
  6. Cook the scallops. 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.
  7. Serve. Ladle the crispy rice into bowls and top with dollops of the aioli. Divide the scallops and serve on top. Serve immediately.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Pepperoni Fried Rice with Scallops and Garlic Aioli

Print Pin
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

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
  • cup (packed) 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

Instructions:

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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  1. 5 stars
    What a creative recipe. I never thought I’d combine these ingredients together and have them work but this absolutely killed it. The only adjustment I made was add some lemon to the rice, I’m a sucker for citrus on anything so that’s just my personal preference. Can’t wait to make this again