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

 Directions

  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.