I’m a sucker for glamorous hors d’oeuvres. Pour me a lovely glass of wine or champagne, pass a silver tray with scrumptious bites, and I’m at my favorite kind of party. (Good company and good music go without saying!) And this shrimp in spiced phyllo with tomato chutney is right at the top of the list of luxurious hors d’oeuvres.
Basically, if you treat phyllo lovingly and bathe every layer in butter like you’re supposed to, you could wrap up shoelaces in it and I would swoon. There’s something about the delicate, shattering crunchiness of phyllo that seems grown-up and decadent. It’s not an ingredient you use in everyday cooking, so it’s elevated, sophisticated even. And I find that at a cocktail party, people gravitate toward the extremes: schmancy stuff like this and the other end of the spectrum — everyone’s perennial favorite, pigs in blankets. Seriously. I could make a million delicious things in between, but those two hors d’oeuvres would be demolished first.
I’ve been making these shrimp for more than 10 years, always to rave reviews. In fact, I’ve given the recipe to caterers for parties I’ve thrown because I haven’t come across a better or more satisfying shrimp hors d’oeuvre. The tomato chutney is easy to make and vibrant, with bold flavor from ginger, garlic, tomatoes and cilantro. The shrimp rolls admittedly take a little longer, because you’re working with phyllo. The trick is to keep the phyllo moist by covering the stack with plastic wrap and then a damp towel. When you take out each sheet, you need to cover the others back up so they don’t dry out and crack. But once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake. The curry powder/toasted hazlenut mixture that gets sprinkled between sheets is what makes the recipe so epic. It’s the little secret that makes the tomato chutney burst with flavor, and enhances the sweetness of the shrimp.
Tuck this recipe away for the next time you’re entertaining and then let me know if your guests aren’t blown away.
Shrimp in Spiced Phyllo with Tomato Chutney
Gourmet, October 2000
For tomato chutney
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced shallot
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
For shrimp rolls
- 1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 6 (17- by 12-inch) phyllo sheets
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 30 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Heat butter in a 10-inch skillet over moderately high heat, then sauté ginger, shallot, and garlic, stirring, 1 minute. Add remaining chutney ingredients and cook over moderate heat, stirring, 4 minutes.
3. Stir together nuts and curry powder.
4. Cover stack of phyllo with 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel.
5. Remove 1 phyllo sheet, place on a work surface and brush well with butter. Sprinkle with one sixth spice mixture.
6. Stack 2 more phyllo sheets on top, buttering each and sprinkling each with spice mixture.
7. Cut spiced phyllo stack lengthwise into 5 strips, then cut each crosswise in thirds to make 15 (5 1/2- by 2 1/4-inch) rectangles.
8. Place 1 shrimp lengthwise on short end of 1 strip and roll up, leaving head and tail exposed; then roll up 14 more shrimp. Arrange, seams down, 1/2-inch apart, on a buttered baking sheet.
9. Make 15 more hors d’oeuvres with remaining (unused) phyllo sheets, butter, spice mixture, and shrimp and arrange on baking sheet.
10. Brush tops of rolls with some of remaining butter and bake in middle of oven until phyllo is golden and shrimp are cooked, about 12 minutes.
Serve shrimp rolls with chutney.