Scallops Wrapped in Kataifi (aka “hairy scallops”)

Would you like to hear more about the appetizer that my eldest ponytail called “a hairy scallop?”

Okay, call me a proud cook, but this description really doesn’t do the Scallops Wrapped in Kataifi (pronounced kah-tah-ee-fee) justice. I prefer to say that the kataifi looks like Shredded Wheat Cereal.

If you’ve never tried kataifi, it is essentially a Greek pastry that is like shredded phyllo, although apparently it is in fact spun and not shredded, and the dough that is used to make it is slightly different than phyllo dough (made with wheat and flour). 

I was inspired to make this dish because my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were visiting from Edmonton this weekend and I wanted to make something special for them—something that they wouldn’t have every day. The Scallops Wrapped in Kataifi with Lemon Aioli and Balsamic Reduction did the job, as neither of them had tried anything like this before. Best of all, they liked it!

My sister-in-law Janet helped me make these, and I have to say it was so nice to spend time with her in the kitchen this weekend. As Janet can attest, these are super easy to prepare even though they are made with an ingredient you may not be familiar with.

Essentially you just keep wrapping the kataifi around the scallops like you were rolling a ball of yarn, until each scallop is nicely covered. Then you add a bit of melted butter to the top before baking, which is what gives the kataifi its lovely golden colour. Once baked, we garnished them with lemon aioli and balsamic reduction, which we all felt went really well with the scallops.

Kataifi is available in specialty food shops (particularly middle eastern) and in some grocery stores (I read on Chowhound that it is available at Longos in Toronto). I buy mine at Ararat, my favourite local specialty store. If you can’t find kataifi, you could make a substitute by rolling thawed phyllo dough into a log and then slicing it into thin rounds. This wouldn’t be an exact substitute for the kataifi but a number of people posted comments on this recipe at Epicurious (which was my inspiration for my version) stating that they used this approach successfully.

A Note My Blogging Buddies: I haven’t been able to leave comments on the WordPress blogs that I follow for six days now. For some reason WP’s anti-virus solution Akismet has blacklisted me, and so all of my comments end up in the spam folders of the WP blogs I comment on. I’ve stopped commenting until I get this issue resolved, which seems to be taking quite a while. I can assure you that I haven’t been leaving inappropriate remarks on other sites! Although I guess I’m in good company, as a woman on the news last night revealed that her first invitation from the Queen to participate in the Diamond Jubillee festivities landed in her spam folder!

Scallops Wrapped in Kataifi With Lemon Aioli & Balsamic Reduction

(Serves 4; one scallop per person as an appetizer)

  • 4 extra large sea scallops
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ lb kataifi phyllo (approximately)
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

 Balsamic Reduction

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

Lemon Aioli

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp grated lemon zest
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ clove of garlic, finely grated
  • Pinch of salt and pepper


  1. In a small saucepan, simmer the vinegar over medium heat until syrupy, about 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare aioli by mixing together the mayo, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oven to 450°. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Wrap each scallop in some of the kataifi phyllo. Arrange the scallops on a baking sheet and drizzle with the melted butter.
  4. Bake the scallops until just done, about 15 minutes.

 Serve scallops with balsamic reduction and lemon aioli.


68 Comments on “Scallops Wrapped in Kataifi (aka “hairy scallops”)”

  1. Kristy says:

    This has to be the most interesting way to prepare scallops I’ve ever seen. The balsamic reduction sound heavenly as does the lemon aioli. Yum!

  2. A_Boleyn says:

    Sounds like a very appetizing dish. Could you do large shrimp this way as well, I wonder? 🙂

    • Yes definitely! This would also be really delicious with shrimp. I’m thinking that you may need to cook the shrimp for a little less time though, pending the size of the shrimp. My scallops were about 2 inches in diameter — 8 of them were 3/4 of a pound.

  3. Tandy says:

    A friend and I were discussing this pastry on my blog last week. I’ve had it wrapped around prawns and salmon and it’s really amazing 🙂

  4. This is such an exotic preparation of scallops – awesome 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  5. Karen says:

    This is a beautiful way to dress up scallops. We know that you aren’t spam and if your comments end up being tagged as spam, the comment is still there and we can click them as not spam and move them over to regular comments. We should be able to clear it up on our end. I hope the glitch is fixed and we all understand.

  6. Sissi says:

    Barb, what a gorgeous, elegant and sophisticated dish you have prepared! It looks like from an excellent restaurant, prepared by a famous chef! I’m really impressed.
    Here this thing is called kadaif and some French chefs use it to wrap things up. I have never dared buying it yet because it seemed very tricky and complicated. You make it sound easy though, so you have convinced me. I will certainly not forget your amazing dish! Thank you for the inspiration.
    Have you tried commenting on my blog? Other bloggers’ comments arrive to my spam folder, but I look through it practically every day and unspam the real comments. It’s something I’m used to and I know my comments are also spammed recently. Don’t be afraid to comment on my blog 🙂 I will unspam you!

    • Thank you for your kind comments Sissi — that is very high praise indeed. My sister-in-law wrapped a couple of the scallops and she was surprised how easy it was. I guess the kataifi just looks daunting! You know, happily, your blog is one of the few where my comments still appear. Perhaps it is because you now have the quiz at the bottom to weed out spam. Even though Charles’ site is self-hosted through WP, my comments have been going right into his spam folder. I will drop by tonight again — I ran out of time writing my post last night. BTW, my daughter insisted that we buy the materials to make sushi, so now I have to check out your sushi recipes so that we can give it a go! She’s very excited!

      • Sissi says:

        Barb, I am thrilled about your future maki experience. Do not hesitate to ask me questions! I am not a specialist, but I have been making them for years and since I’m not very skilled with manual, tricky recipes I am sure you will do much better than me! Good luck!
        As for commenting, recently they have changed something and I find more and more regular visitors’ comments in spam folder. It never happened before… (Your last comment was subject to approval, it also makes me furious because in theory it should appear automatically, but luckily it didn’t get to spam folder. Thank you for commenting!).

  7. A lovely, elegant dish and so creative, too! And easy, which is especially nice. I kind of like the Hairy Scallop moniker! I, too, will un-spam you and will go and check now to see if you’re in there. Every now and then there are glitches with WP. My last post changed the publish date from June 3 to June 1, so it didn’t show up in the reader when it published with new posts…it was with the two day ago posts! Sigh.

    • Thanks so much Betsy! I kind of like the moniker too — it is creative if nothing else! That is funny about WP. This one has made me pulling my hair out, because at first I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I’m pretty sure I posted on your tacos post. I mentioned that I think of you whenever I see peaches now! I’m dying for them to come into season here after reading all of your recent posts.

  8. Beth says:

    Don’t you love the way kids describe food? A hairy scallop is just as evocative as we could ask for. This looks like a great recipe!

  9. Karista says:

    Barb this dish looks too beautiful to eat! What a lovely presentation and I absolutely adore scallops. I’m going to be on the lookout for Kataifi! I found your comments in my spam folder and put them where they belong in the comments folder. There were other bloggers comments in my spam folder as well. Good luck!!

    • Thanks so much Karista! I’m telling you, the preparation really is straight-forward. I hope that you find it — it is available through, which I forgot to mention. Although I’m not sure if there are restrictions on where they’ll deliver to, since I imagine it needs to be refrigerated. Thanks for all of your help with this technical issue. Needless to say, it has been driving me crazy!

  10. That looks delectable!! I just want to dig in and move a good bite around in the aioli and reduction right this instant. Literally– mouthwatering plate/photo.

  11. I love trying new things in the kitchen! Extra help always does make things more fun as well. Interesting ingredient here. The special phyllo does make the dish very eye-catching. Wish I could have tried it-no doubt a delicious entree. Well done!

    • Thanks so much Tina. I can tell that you like to try new recipes by your blog posts. There’s an Indonesian-inspired recipe of yours that I want to make with pineapple that looked so interesting! I’d love to have offered some for you to try….too bad there’s such a distance between where we live. 🙂

  12. Norma Chang says:

    That is such a cool way to serve scallops, so elegant and upscale, love, love the idea. Thanks for the gorgeous presentation photo.

  13. Amazing presentation!

  14. How fancy and eye-catching!

  15. I love scallops in any shape way or form…even raw! But I’ve never tried scallops served hairy 😛 Looks absolutely delicious and I can just imagine the lovely textures as well…

  16. These pictures are beautiful. I love a good scallop recipe and these look delicious, never thought I’d say that about something ‘hairy” but they are making my belly rumble!

  17. Eva Taylor says:

    Hairy scallops indeed! I laughed out loud when I read that one.
    I was introduced to this very cool ingredient about four years ago on one of our photo shoots. The stylist wrapped shrimp in it. I haven’t been able to find it, thanks for the tip about Longos. Im definitely going to give these a try, thanks for the reminder, Barb.
    Your comments are showing up on my blog, but I did have to unspam you. Good luck with it.
    Looking forward to Friday evening.

  18. machisan says:

    i would love to try it.. wow!

  19. Barb I am loving this and LOVING your blog!! Seafood is a staple in our house, can’t wait to make “hairy” scallops 🙂

    • Thanks so much for dropping by Shari and for your positive feedback on the blog and scallop dish. I hope you do try the “hairy” scallops — it is an easy, but delicious dish. The only challenge may be to find the kataifi.

  20. sybaritica says:

    Those look so elegant…. now if only I can find that Kataifi!

  21. Oh yum!! I wrapped some prawns in kataifi a couple of weeks ago and fried them for just a few minutes and they were divine with a bit of dipping sauce. These scallops look terrific.

    • Thanks Maureen. I really must try this with some shrimp, as I’m sure it would work equally well with them. I’d also like to try that dessert that you made with the kataifi base, topped with cream and pistashio etc. It is such a neat pastry to work with!

  22. Charles says:

    Hairy scallop… LOL, love the name, and it looks so tasty though. That’s some real gourmet stuff, right there – looks like something straight out of a high-class restaurant… beautiful, Barb!

    • Charles, now I’m blushing. Very kind of you to say — I’m telling you the kataifi works like a charm. It’s easy to work with, but it looks impressive. Leave it to the youngsters to bring us back down to earth with their descriptions though. Could you see “hairy scallop” on a menu?

  23. What an original way of presenting scallops! I really love the idea and title.



  24. LOL, love the description, hairy scallops! Can’t go wrong with phyllo and scallops, looks delicious! My kids had descriptive names too, “lemon up the butt chicken” for a roast chicken with lemons in the cavity! Gotta love kids in the kitchen.

  25. I love the idea of having to dig around in Spam to find an invitation from Buck House! This looks fabulous and they’re baked rather than deep fried, which this kind of thing is very often. Scallops are so sweet I can imagine that the contrast with the crispy pastry would be delicious. GG

  26. These are so pretty Barb.. I’m definitely going to look for that kai… ka.. kte…(scrolling up)Kataifi:) Re being blocked.. I believe I read from another blogger that it could be you have more tags and categories than you should have. I think you’re allowed up to a total of 12 all together (adding both up)… Maybe try that?? She had the same thing happened.. had all kinds of lovely tags and categories.. I think 20 or more.. *sigh* I guess less is more with those things?? xoxo Smidge

    • Thanks Barb. I hope you find some — it’s really fun to work with! That is good to know about the tags and categories. I’ll keep an eye on that, although typically I don’t use very many. It was the strangest thing, but I’m glad things seem to be back to normal now!

  27. Averil Gomes says:

    I love scallops but have never seen or eaten anything as fascinating as this. What a stellar dish.

  28. Barb, these are WOW! So elegant, I’d put on my menu if I ran a cafe… 🙂

  29. Stunning dish, truly gorgeous and I really love the use of the Kataifi!

  30. canalcook says:

    This looks fantastic, and I love anything with scallops, they are my new addiction.

  31. Liz says:

    Our mutual friend, Eva, was just raving about your delicious olives…so of course, I had to run right over to see your recipe! Your whole meal looks incredible! Thanks for sharing 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s