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Prep 30 mins
Cook 40 mins
Roasted curry paste is a Thai condiment, which is the secret in this dish. With smoky eggplants, fresh basil, and a coconut milk sauce, the sweet and hot flavor of the curry paste produces an incredible taste sensation. The flaky phyllo crust adds an extra dimension to this entrée. This yields 8 turnovers, enough for 8 first course or 4 main course servings. The turnovers can be assembled a day ahead, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated or frozen for up to a week. If they have been frozen, place them in the preheated oven without thawing and bake for about 5 to 10 minutes longer than the time specified.
ROASTED CURRY PASTE
- 1⁄4 cup chopped shallot
- 1⁄4 cup minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon curry powder, preferably Madras brand
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 anchovy packed in oil, drained and chopped
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
CURRIED EGGPLANT AND SHRIMP FILLING
- 1⁄2 lb Japanese eggplant (3 or 4 eggplants)
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3⁄4 lb medium raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut in half lengthwise
- 1⁄3 cup shredded fresh basil leaf
- salt, to taste
- 8 sheets frozen phyllo pastry, fully thawed
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1⁄2 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
ROASTED CURRY SAUCE
- 2 cups homemade chicken broth or 2 cups chicken broth, store bought
- 1⁄2 cup whipping cream
- 1⁄2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, canned
- shredded fresh basil leaf, for garnish
- PREPARE THE CURRY PASTE: Wrap the shallots, garlic, ginger, and jalapenos in a sheet of aluminum foil, sealing well to make a flat package. Place the package directly on a gas or electric burner set at moderate heat and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute on each side, turning with tongs. Allow to cool, then unwrap and transfer the contents to a spice grinder or blender. Add the curry powder, cumin, and anchovy and process to a fine paste.
- Heat the oil in a small skillet or frying pan over moderate heat and stir fry the paste until well browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sugar and fish sauce, blending well. Set aside to cool. NOTE: When buying fish sauce, look for the Squid or Tiparos brand.
- NOTE: The curry paste can be made in larger quantities. (This recipe makes about 1/3 cup.) Use it to enhance other curried dishes. To store, put the curry paste in a glass jar. Add just enough peanut oil or vegetable oil to cover. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 months. Do not freeze; the paste will lose its aroma.
- PREPARE THE EGGPLANTS: Prick the skins of the eggplants in several places with a fork. Place the eggplants directly on a gas or electric burner set at moderate heat and grill, turning with tongs, until the flesh is soft and the skin charred, about 4 minutes. Remove to a rack and allow to cool. Peel off and discard the charred skin. The eggplant flesh should be just cooked but still firm. Cut the eggplant into ½ inch cubes. Put the cubes in a bowl and set aside. NOTE: If you can’t find the thin long Japanese eggplants, choose a large purple eggplant and allow 12 minutes to cook it.
- MAKE THE FILLING: Heat the oil in a small skillet over moderate heat. Add the shrimp and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the eggplant and 2 ½ tablespoons of the curry paste and stir with a wooden spoon to mix, about 30 seconds. Add the basil and salt to taste and remove from the heat. Allow to cool.
- Lightly butter a large baking sheet.
- Work with one sheet of phyllo at a time, keeping the remaining leaves covered with a slightly damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
- ASSEMBLE THE TURNOVERS: Working quickly, place a sheet of phyllo on a work surface with a long side toward you. Lightly brush the sheet with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the shredded coconut. Fold the sheet crosswise in half. Brush with butter and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the coconut. Fold the sheet lengthwise in half. You will have a 4 layer strip about 4 by 12 inches. Lightly brush the strip with melted butter.
- Place ¼ cup of the filling on the bottom left hand corner of the strip. Fold bottom right corner of the pyllo strip diagonally over the filling so that the short edge meets the long edge of the strip, forming a triangular point. Continue folding up the triangle over itself to form a triangular package. Brush the triangle with butter and place it seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the shredded coconut over the triangle. Repeat the assembly with the remaining phyllo sheets and filling. Cover and set aside until ready to bake.
- MAKE THE SAUCE: Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the heat to moderately high and gently boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Add the cream, coconut milk, and 1 ½ tablespoons of the curry paste and blend well with a whisk. (Save the remaining curry paste for other uses.) Continue cooking until the sauce is reduced to about 1 cup and has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. The sauce may appear curdled; this is natural, don’t worry. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan. Cover and set aside. NOTE: Do not confuse coconut milk with coconut cream. Excellent canned unsweetened coconut milk is available in Asian markets and some supermarkets. After opening, it can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. For longer storage, freeze it in ice cube trays, then store the cubes in plastic bags. Before using, heat the frozen coconut milk until completely melted. Four cubes equal about ½ cup. You may substitute heavy cream for the coconut milk, but the taste will be slightly altered.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position. Bake the turnovers until crisp and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- TO SERVE: gently reheat the sauce and divide it among four preheated plates. Arrange 2 turnovers on each plate and garnish with shredded basil. Yield 8 turnovers, enough for 8 first course or 4 main course servings.
- Cooking Under Wraps.