Uncle Harry’s Calypso Shrimp

This is a dish I ‘ve been cooking for years. It’s named after my Uncle Harry who used to come to visit us with my Aunt Selma at our restaurant The New Deal, in SoHo in Manhattan.

Each time he came to visit, he’d decline the regular menu and would ask the server if I would create something special. We had a lot of fun with the variety of dishes I’d make for him. One night, I put together this shrimp dish and it just hit the spot for him. The next time I knew he was coming in, I added a special on the menu called “Uncle Harry’s Calypso Shrimp”. From then on, it was his dish. It eventually made it on our regular menu and has continued been part of my repertoire for the last 25 years.

It’s a great hors d’oeuvre or starter course.

yield: 6 portions

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 36 each   shrimp (sized at 16-20 per pound, peeled and cleaned)
  • 1/2 cup  raisins or currants
  • 1/4 cup   peanuts (shelled, chopped, unsalted!!)
  • 1/4 cup   golden brown sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons Meyers Dark Rum
  • 3 Tablespoons Chardonnay
  • 1 ea    Lemons, cut in half, for juice
  • 1 Tablepoon  Spice mixture (see below)
  • To taste  salt and pepper


  1. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add butter, brown sugar, peanuts, spice mixture and raisins in that order, with the butter on the bottom and the rest of the ingredients on top. When butter starts to melt, stir once or twice and wait for the mixture to begin to foam. While the mixture is foaming, add the shrimp and a little bit of salt and pepper.
  2. Toss until the shrimp start to turn pink in color, then remove the pan from the flame, and (while still hot) add the rum and the Chardonnay. Immediately return to the flame and tip the pan so that the evaporating alcohol catches fire and creates flames in and above the pan. Toss a few times and add lemon juice.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer until shrimp are cooked through and the “sauce” has slightly reduced and thickened enough to coat the shrimp. Serve in a bowl with lemon wedges, on a banana leaf or in a martini glass.

Spice Mix

  • 2 parts Cardamon
  • 2 parts Clove
  • 1 part coriander
  • 1 part Cinnamon
  • 1 part Nutmeg
  • 1/2 part Cayenne
  • 1/2 part Allspice

Directions: Use all ground spices, combine and store in an airtight container in a dark, dry place.

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