Un gazpacho exotique- St Jacques au gaspacho de litchis

A good friend of mine is half Basque, so one day, while browsing through her cookbooks, I found a very interesting book on Basque cuisine, written by Gerald Hirigoyen, an amazing Basque chef who owns a few restaurants in San Francisco, among which Bocadillos and Piperade.

One particular recipe really caught my attention just because I never saw lychees in Basque cuisine; Litchi (or lychee) is an Asian fruit, mainly grown in China and is considered a tropical fruit for us. In France, you can find lychees almost anywhere and we eat a lot of them, but only as a fruit; it’s mainly sold during winter time, and I have never really seen it incorporated into a main course.

The natural sweetness of scallops blends beautifully with fruits, and I could not stop thinking about this recipe…I finally decided to give it a try, but twisting things around a little, changed a few ingredients and added some cayenne pepper, it  gave the dish a little kick and I love it. I will definitely serve it again when I have a dinner party.

The gazpacho is slightly fruity but not too sweet and very smooth, when combined with the crunchiness of the cucumber is a perfect harmony of textures.

The scallops need to be very fresh, I used the jumbo ones, make sure to pat them dry, to remove all excess water, so they are able to brown well.

Ingredients for 4

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 English cucumbers, peeled
  • 12 lychees
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, cored and diced
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 2 tbs
  • 8 large scallops
  • 1 tbs mint chiffonade
  • salt and pepper


Bring balsamic vinegar to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for about 10 minutes, until the vinegar has reduced to a syrup consistency. Set aside.

Cut half of the cucumber in half lengthwise, remove seeds and chop one half. Using a mandoline, julienne the other half to form some spaghetti strands with the cucumber. Throw away the seeds. Place julienne in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, toss to coat and set aside for 15 minutes.

Peel lychee and remove the seed. In a blender, combine lychees, tomato, chopped cucumber, lemon juice, cayenne, olive oil, salt and pepper. Process to obtain a smooth consistency. Cover and refrigerate.

Rub scallops on both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet and saute scallops over high heat, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Divide lychee gazpacho among 4 plates. Rinse julienne cucumber with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Toss with mint and place some in the center of the gazpacho. Mount with two scallops in the center and drizzle with balsamic reduction.