If you loved my Popcorn Chicken, you’re going to flip for this Popcorn Shrimp!
Crispy, golden-brown, delicious shrimp get coated in arrowroot starch, dipped in an egg wash and dredged in cassava flour before being shallow fried to perfection in some coconut oil. I pair the shrimp with a super easy yet incredibly delicious Whole30 compliant cocktail sauce. The combination is a match made in heaven!
Though the popcorn shrimp are grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo and technically made with Whole30 compliant ingredients, I would file this one under SWYPO, making it off limits during your round. SWYPO (sex with your pants on) refers to paleofied junk foods. It’s good, but not as good as the real thing. These fried shrimp kind of fall under that category, except I actually think they taste better this way! So, it might be best to leave these popcorn shrimp to life after Whole30 (or before!).
The cocktail sauce, however, is Paleo and Whole30 compliant and an amazing dipping sauce for the popcorn shrimp. It’s as simple as stirring together some sugar-free, compliant ketchup, prepared horseradish, lemon juice and coconut aminos. The sauce is tangy, rich, and super tasty! Try using it for other shrimp dishes during your round of Whole30.
When it comes to Popcorn Shrimp, Size Matters
Although the “popcorn” in the recipe title implies bite-sized morsels of crispy shrimp, I prefer to use an extra-large or jumbo shrimp (26/30 or 16/20) for this recipe.
Cassava flour takes a bit longer to get brown and crispy than traditional flour so using a larger shrimp will allow you to develop a nice colour on the outside without overcooking the inside. If you use a small or extra small shrimp, you will likely overcook the inside, making it tough and rubbery, before the exterior has had a chance to properly cook.
Golden Rules for Frying with Alternative Flours
Be sure to only dredge the shrimp immediately before frying. Alternative flours like arrowroot starch and cassava flour tend to get gummy after they come into contact with moisture. Working in batches will help prevent the breading from turning soggy.
Use a 10-inch non-stick skillet. Sure, cast-iron retains and distributes heat better than non-stick, but it also absorbs some of the oil, resulting in some waste. As for the size of the pan, using a smaller skillet will force the oil to rise up along the sides of whatever you’re cooking, which means you can get away with using less oil altogether.
Work in batches. Overcrowding the pan with shrimp will cause the temperature of the oil to drop, which will result in a soggy and greasy finished product.
Popcorn Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce - Paleo
For the Whole30 Cocktail Sauce:
- ½ cup compliant sugar-free ketchup such as Primal Kitchen or Tessemae’s
- 1 tablespoon prepared white horseradish
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
For the Popcorn Shrimp:
- 340 gr 26/30 or 16/20 shrimp peeled, deveined, tail left on
- ¼ cup cassava flour
- ¼ cup arrowroot starch
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt plus extra for serving
- ½ lemon cut into wedges, for serving
- ¼ cup coconut oil plus more if required
- For the Whole30 Cocktail Sauce:
- In a bowl, combine the ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and coconut aminos.
- For the Popcorn Shrimp:
- Place the arrowroot starch, cassava flour and eggs into three separate mixing bowls. Season the cassava flour with the paprika, onion powder, and a ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and stir through to incorporate. Add 1 tablespoon of water to the egg and whisk vigorously until frothy.
- Dredge the shrimp in the arrowroot starch, then dip into the egg wash, and finally dredge in the seasoned cassava flour.
- Heat a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the coconut oil and heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it reaches 350F. Shake off any excess breading from the shrimp and carefully add it to the hot oil. Cook the shrimp until it’s golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer the popcorn shrimp to a plate lined with paper towel to soak up excess oil and season with a pinch of kosher salt.
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce.