I thought about that shrimp many times over the next few days. How beautiful and succulent it looked! How heavenly it smelled! I could have just made some for myself, but fried foods have never been my forte. As a matter of fact, I've attempted making coconut shrimp several times before, with pretty dismal results. Ive ended up with burned shrimp, soggy shrimp, and shrimp where the coconut wouldnt stick and ended up in the bottom of the frying pan. Ive never been able to achieve that crispy, golden brown, coconutty crust, and I finally gave up trying.
The other day, I popped into my local supermarket to pick up a few things, and was greeted by a wonderful and familiar smell. The Publix Apron's lady was in her demo kitchen and she was making
are you ready for this
coconut shrimp! I hightailed it over there to get my sample! Mmmm! It really hit the spot!
When I got home, I flipped on the Food Network. As I was putting my groceries away, I could hear Paula Deens thick Savannah drawl as she talked about sreeyump. I looked over at the TV screen and sure enough, Paula was making
can you guess
COCONUT SHRIMP!!! (Insert Twilight Zone theme here.)
This was just too much! I can be a little dense at times, but you didnt have to hit me over the head with a brick for me to realize that someone was trying to tell me something.
"MAKE COCONUT SHRIMP!"
I turned around, got in my car, drove back to Publix and bought the ingredients to make some coconut shrimp.
Back home, and armed with my guts in my pocket, I set up my assembly line of flour, beaten eggs, panko crumbs, coconut and a pound of gorgeous Key West pinks and went to work.
I dont know. Maybe practice makes perfect, or maybe the coconut shrimp gods were smiling down on me, but this time, my coconut shrimp were OUTSTANDING! Seriously. Every single one turned out perfectly. There wasnt a burnt, soggy or naked shrimp in the lot. I served them with a spicy pineapple/apricot sauce and watched them diasappear. Even my daughter, who doesnt like shrimp, ate them.
It was a miracle. It was fate. It was meant to be.
Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Pineapple-Apricot Dipping Sauce
For the dipping sauce:
1/2 cup pineapple preserves
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup pineapple-apricot horseradish sauce (Silver Spring brand)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce (more if you really like it spicy)
Mix all ingredients together in a small heatproof bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and set aside.
For the shrimp:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
2-3 cups panko bread crumbs*
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 tsp kosher salt
1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
Canola or peanut oil for frying
Place flour in a wide, shallow plate or baking dish. Place eggs in a medium bowl and beat them lightly. Combine panko, coconut, allspice and salt in another wide, shallow plate or baking dish.
Dip each shrimp in flour, coating both sides. Shake off any excess. Dip into egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Then, dip shrimp into panko/coconut mixture, patting it into the shrimp to stick.
Lay prepared shrimp on a tray or baking sheet and chill in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
While shrimp is chilling, put about 2 inches of oil in a large, deep pot. Begin heating oil to 350 degrees F.
Remove shrimp from the freezer and carefully, drop them into the hot oil, 5-6 at a time, and fry until golden brown, no more than 2 minutes.
Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all shrimp are cooked.
Serve shrimp with Spicy Pineapple-Apricot Dipping Sauce.
*Panko are Japanese bread crumbs, They're lighter, crisper and coarser than those normally used in the United States and are especially well-suited to frying. Various brands of panko crumbs can be found in the ethnic food aisles at Publix, Sweet Bay and Whole Foods.
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