This keto-friendly, gluten-free dish is my version of something I tasted at the Princess d’Annam Resort & Spa, in Vietnam’s Binh Thuan province. The cooks grilled the scallops on a large barbecue set up on the beach while we sat nearby at tables watching the waves. You can cook the scallops on the barbecue if you have it fired up for making other dishes, but I cook them under the oven grill.
Grilling the scallops is quick, but making the pork crackling takes about 45 minutes, so I make a large quantity each time. If you can resist munching the crackling on its own, save it in the fridge or freezer for the next time you want to make this dish.
Cut the pork fat into 6mm (¼ in) cubes and put them in a saucepan with about 45ml (3 tbsp) of water. Place the pan over a low flame and heat until the fat starts to melt. Continue to cook, at a very low simmer, stirring often, until all the fat has separated out from the pale golden crackling (the solid bits). This takes about 45 minutes.
Use a fine strainer to lift the crackling out of the fat and drain the pieces briefly before putting them on paper towels.
Clean the scallops, removing the dark green/black parts but keeping the coral (which is orange for females and off-white for males). Detach the scallop from the shell. Save 12 of the prettiest shells for serving. Use paper towels to blot the moisture from the shells and the scallops. put the scallops back into their shells.
Cut the spring onions into 6mm (¼ in) lengths.
Pour about 60ml (¼ cup) of the rendered pork fat into a small pan and heat it over a medium flame. When the fat is hot, add the spring onions and stir until the pieces are wilted. Remove the pan from the heat.
Set the oven grill to high heat. Place the scallops in their shells on an oven tray that will hold them all in one layer (or cook them in batches).
Drizzle about ¼ tsp of fish sauce over each scallop.
Spoon the spring onions (with some of the fat they were cooked in) over the scallops, dividing them evenly, then scatter with as much as you want of the fried pork crackling.
Grind a little black pepper over each scallop, then slide the pan under the grill about 5cm (2 in) from the heating elements. Cook for about two minutes for mi-cuit, or longer if you like them well done.
Scatter the mint leaves on a platter, then place the scallops on top. Serve immediately.