Crispy, crunchy, juicy Coconut Shrimp with only two ingredients? Take all my money! OK, maybe not ALL my money because I need a couple of bucks to make the salad and sesame-ginger vinaigrette to serve the shrimp over.
I don’t know about you but I’ve long loved the combination of coconut and shrimp. Each is great individually, but put them together and I get really excited. The subtle sweetness from the coconut pairs really nicely with the delicate flavour of the shrimp. When gently fried until golden brown, the coconut gets crispy and develops a nutty flavour that takes things to the next level. Then again, I know there are more than a few of you who can’t stand the sight of either coconut or shrimp, so maybe skip this recipe altogether if that’s the case?
Most recipes for coconut shrimp involve dredging the shrimp in flour before coating it in a flour-based batter. The battered shrimp are then dipped in coconut and deep-fried in a neutral-flavoured oil with a high-smoking point, such as canola or peanut. There’s no denying that this process results in a supremely crispy, juicy and delicious finished product. Alas, it’s not exactly healthy.
It can, however, be made healthyish through a few clever paleo substitutions. That’s a story for another time (same place though – this blog) because as of late, time has been of the essence for me and I’ve found myself looking for more and more shortcuts in the kitchen. I thought to myself, I wonder if I could just coat the shrimp in some shredded coconut and call it a day. Turns out, I can and so can you!
The coconut doesn’t stick “perfectly” to the shrimp as it gets shallow-fried in a skillet and some of the shreds will inevitably fall off. But, with a firm pressing of the hands, enough of the coconut clings on to give you a nice crust on the shrimp. And, almost like a consolation prize, any of the coconut shreds that do fall off, get toasted in the oil and can be used as a garnish for the salad or anything else you want to serve the coconut shrimp with. So, be sure to keep any of those golden brown bits for later as you fry the shrimp.
Speaking of frying, I like to use coconut oil here. It has a high smoking point, but that isn’t all too important since you’re only cooking the shrimp at medium heat. The real reason I like it is because the flavour echoes the shredded coconut. If you don’t have coconut oil, you can substitute avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil. Keep in mind that the former is neutral in flavour and colour and the latter will impart a bit of flavour and colour.
The salad I serve the coconut shrimp with is an Asian-inspired one. You know those premade packages of salad you can find at the grocery store? Think of this as a homemade version that costs way less and tastes better.
Same goes for the Sesame-Ginger Vinaigrette, which is super easy to throw together and much healthier than anything store-bought. The secret ingredient? A bit of tahini paste (100% pure toasted sesame seed paste), which adds an extra pop of sesame flavour and acts as an emulsifier.
Crispy, crunchy, juicy Coconut Shrimp with only two ingredients? It's true! Try serving them over a crunchy salad with a homemade sesame-ginger vinaigrette.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/8 cup coconut aminos
- 1 tablespoon pure toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon 100% pure tahini paste
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon pure organic maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 17- ounces 16/20 jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined, tails left intact
- ½ cup shredded desiccated coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1/3 cup coconut oil plus more if needed
- 2 heads romaine lettuce roughly chopped into 1-inch ribbons
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 mandarin oranges segmented
- 1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
- 1 carrot julienned
- 1/3 cup toasted unsalted cashews
- ½ red bell pepper julienned
- Add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk until emulsified. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, or up to 1 week.
- In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients.
- In a shallow bowl or plate, add the shredded coconut. Season with salt and pepper and stir through to incorporate.
- Rinse and pat shrimp very dry with paper towel. Coat both sides of each shrimp in the seasoned coconut. Be sure to press down firmly so that the coating sticks.
- Add coconut oil to a non-stick skillet and place over medium heat. Test the heat of the oil by adding a couple of loose shreds of coconut. If they sizzle, you know your oil is hot enough.
- Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, cook the shrimp until golden brown on both sides, around 3 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a wire rack set over a rimmed sheet pan while you continue to cook the remaining shrimp. If cooking a large batch, you can keep the cooked shrimp warm in a 200F oven.
- Transfer any of the loose shreds of toasted coconut in the pan to a bowl lined with paper towel.
- Add the tossed salad to individual serving bowls. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and top with the coconut shrimp. Garnish with a sprinkling of toasted coconut and enjoy immediately.