Crunchy coconut shrimp appetizer with a sweet and spicy dip of apricot preserves + pepper jelly.

coconut prawns

In my mind, these started out as Beer Battered Coconut Prawns. The plan was to take a recipe I slaved over last summer for coconut prawns and tweak it a bit with beer. They were The Summer Project That Drove Me Crazy with weeks of attempts, countless variations, and more pounds of shrimp than I want to admit, all to get a crispy crust. And all for love, I might add.

CM (Carnivorous Maximus), aka the husband, has to restrain himself from snagging coconut prawns from waiters’ trays as he’s walking through a restaurant. They rank high on his list of favorite foods, and although he vigorously denies it, I think they remind him of his bachelor years in Hawaii as a young ER doctor zipping through shifts before hitting the beach where the bikinis were.

So he happily ate his way through each batch I tried, judiciously weighing in on the crunch factor, the tenderness of the shrimp, and coconut flavor.

Aiming at first for a healthy version, I tried baking them.

“Too soggy.”

I kicked up the heat to broil.

“Too dry.”

I experimented with rice flour, potato flour, and salting the shrimp.

“Pah-lease just FRY them!!”

I was losing that sense of fun togetherness, and agreed to fry the suckers. The secret to frying is using a high oil temperature. That way, the shrimp cook fast and are in the oil a much shorter time. The shorter the time, the less oil they absorb.

I could actually hear the crunch across the room when he ate that first batch out of the frying pan. Now I just needed to tweak the oil temperature a bit, and experiment with the coconut flakes. Home stretch, I remember thinking.

I tried sweetened and unsweetened coconut. I tried small flake and big. I even gave large toasted flakes a run for its money. In the end, I settled on a combination of large and medium, and enough coconut to last me a lifetime.

So yesterday, I bought some shrimp, and after long pondering, decided on Anchor Steam beer. I kept a bottle out at room temperature to play with today, and that was the last I gave it any thought until we tested the finished prawns this afternoon and I spied the bottle of beer still on the counter.

CM generously offered, “it’s okay with me if you make another batch with the beer.”

I’m not saying my love for him has limits, but going back to the store for more shrimp wasn’t happening today.

“Next time”, I responded. Because with these coconut shrimp, I’ve learned there’s always a next time.

Cook’s Notes

Be sure to bring the oil back up to 375˚- 400˚F between batches of the shrimp. This ensures a brown crispy skin and shorter time in the oil.

All-purpose flour, rice flour or potato flour can all be substituted for the coconut flour.

I’ve used sesame oil, and it works well as a substitute for peanut oil. I imagine Canola oil would too.

Coconut Prawns with Sweet-Spicy Dipping Sauce – #SundaySupper

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6

Coconut Prawns
  • 1½ pounds large shrimp, shelled, deveined and butterflied
  • ¾ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¾ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • peanut oil, or other high temperature oil
Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp apricot preserves
  • 3 Tbsp red pepper jam
Coconut Prawns
  1. Bring the shrimp to room temperature. Line a baking sheet with a doubled thickness of paper towels
  2. Pour enough peanut oil into a heavy pot to nearly submerge the shrimp, and heat over medium-high heat to between 375 - 400˚ F.
  3. Set out three bowls. Pour the flour in the first bowl; whisk the eggs in the second; mix the coconut, Panko, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in the third.
  4. Dip each shrimp first in the flour, shaking off any excess; then in the egg; and finally in the coconut mixture, pressing the mixture lightly onto the shrimp. Place on a plate until finished with all the shrimp.
  5. Depending on the size of your pot, you will need to cook the shrimp in three or four batches. Drop a few shrimp into the oil, and cook for two minutes. If the shrimp aren't completely submerged, use tongs to gently flip them over in the oil after the first minute. Remove by grabbing their tails with tongs, and lay on the paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.
  6. Serve with the Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce.
Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce
  1. Stir together the apricot preserves and red pepper jelly.


This week’s theme at #SundaySupper is “MAN FOOD!!”, hosted by the wonderful Susan of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen blog fame. And now you know why this Sunday’s post isn’t my latest kale kerfuffle, as CM likes to put it.

It wouldn’t be honest.

It needed to be something that he considers his food.  I drew the line at meat, and we’re both on a diet, so I ended up with these wonderful little prawns – a perfect little appetizer for your next party. Or a great lunch or dinner for your guy along with a really big kale salad for yourself. :-)

And now, go check out what the rest of the guys got this week!!


Manly Starters:

Manly Mains:

Manly Desserts:

Wine Pairings for Man Food #SundaySupper byENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our#SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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52 Responses to “Crunchy Coconut Shrimp” Subscribe

  1. Christina Conte June 14, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Oh you are a brave one to keep at the same recipe so many times! I did that with shortbread and thought I wasn’t going to make it in the end! I LOVE coconut fried shrimp, but have never made them at home. Thank you for the inspiration and all the hard work, so I can make them properly the first time! :)
    Christina Conte recently posted..For Father’s Day, may I Suggest a Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked Alaska Pie?My Profile

  2. The Ninja Baker June 15, 2014 at 2:17 am #

    Giggling and delighting in the nickname for your hubby

  3. The Ninja Baker June 15, 2014 at 2:21 am #

    Yikes! I wrote a long comment accented with smileys and beer figurines…Guess your system doesn’t approve. Anyway, love the nickname for your hubby. And if the shrimps your husband views at restaurants are as gorgeous as yours, I’d have a hard time restraining myself, too! Last and not least, who needs beer when you’ve got perfectly panko coated Susan fried shrimp!

  4. Liz June 15, 2014 at 4:26 am #

    LOL…I love your hubby’s passion for these shrimp! And so glad you’ve developed the perfect recipe! They truly look spectacular!!!

  5. Nichole C June 15, 2014 at 5:21 am #

    Haha, I love the story and process you shared in making these. I’m glad you had such an enthusiastic “taste tester” :)
    Nichole C recently posted..shredded beef barbacoa for #sundaysupperMy Profile

  6. Amy Kim (@kimchi_mom) June 15, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    I find it interesting that you have deep-fried with sesame oil. I thought it had a low smoke point. I’ve never really cooked with sesame oil since I find it bitter when used at a high temp. Anyway, how is the flavor compared to other oils when you deep-fry with sesame oil?
    Amy Kim (@kimchi_mom) recently posted..Grilled Lobster with Miso Butter #SundaySupperMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian June 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      Very good question. I used 75% sesame oil in my last batch, 25% grape seed oil. I wonder if that addition of the grape seed oil made the difference. I still prefer peanut oil, but I don’t always have it on hand. The other factor could be the length of frying time. Two minutes is fairly quick, especially compared to chicken, for example. I didn’t notice any bitterness at all. This is the only frying I’ve done since last summer when I did all those many batches to nail down the recipe, so unfortunately I’m not sure I have a lot of other experience to point to.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Coconut Prawns with Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce – #SundaySupperMy Profile

  7. Shannon @VillageGirlBlog June 15, 2014 at 6:15 am #

    Coconut Shrimp is that one restaurant dish that I am afraid to attempt, but everyone loves. These look amazing. I have to go for it!

  8. Marlene @Nosh My Way June 15, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    Oh My , I love coconut shrimp. on my list to make. I just need to find a substitute for the panko (no bread for me).
    Pinning for later.
    Marlene @Nosh My Way recently posted..Devils on Horseback #SundaySupperMy Profile

  9. MealDiva June 15, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Yes please! These look perfectly crispy and I wish I had some right now!
    MealDiva recently posted..Ropa Vieja #SundaySupperMy Profile

  10. Laura June 15, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    I admire that you kept trying with the recipe, it is hard when recipes you try just don’t turn out like you imagined it at first. Looks like you ended up with a perfect recipe.

  11. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers June 15, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    I love your story and I love your dish! Your coconut prawns sound out of this world!
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers recently posted..Stuffed Chipotle Bacon Cheese Burgers #SundaySupperMy Profile

  12. Martin D Redmond June 15, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    I adore Coconut Prawns and yours looks amazing Susan! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Deanna Samaan June 15, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Ohhhh, Yummy!!!!

  14. Danielle Nichols June 15, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    What beautiful shrimp, fried to perfection. There are just somethings that are not meant to be altered and messed with. Fried shrimp is one of them.

  15. Tara June 15, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    Great post and I admire your fortitude!! Sometimes we must succomb to frying, it really is the best!! Those shrimp look wonderful!!

  16. apuginthekitchen June 15, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    After much trial and error you did it, they look and sound amazing. I love coconut shrimp and have never made them myself. I order them in restaurants all the time. Love these!
    apuginthekitchen recently posted..Chai Honey Pecan Ice CreamMy Profile

  17. Shaina June 15, 2014 at 11:33 am #

    YUM! These look like they were totally worth all the effort…which, by the way, is totally admirable…I would never have that much patience!
    Shaina recently posted..Coconut and Lime Grilled Shrimp Skewers for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  18. Renee June 15, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    Oh my. You really did go through a lot to perfect this recipe. The best part is that final success. And these look scrumptious.
    Renee recently posted..Fat Man’s Pie for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  19. Sarah June 15, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Amazing, this is something my whole family would love for sure!

  20. Choc Chip Uru June 15, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    This looks absolutely fantastic, the dipping sauce must compliment the prawns so well 😀

    Choc Chip Uru
    Choc Chip Uru recently posted..CCU Undercover: Twisted Frozen YoghurtMy Profile

  21. cheri June 15, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Great story behind this recipe Susan. These look wonderful. Your amazing for sticking with this recipe and trying out all the different things that you did. Looks delicious!
    cheri recently posted..Strawberry Avocado Spinach SaladMy Profile

  22. Roz June 15, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Thanks for your kind visit Susan! I fixed the ingredients amount and want to thank you for the heads up that the ZipList widget had a glitch. It’s happened before and I get really frustrated when I think it has posted correctly. I adore shrimp but cannot eat it anymore due to an adult-onset allergy to shellfish, so I’m wondering if I could do the same recipe with chicken instead. I love spicy food, especially those with an Asian/Thai twist. This recipe just sounds so delicious!
    Thank you for sharing,
    Roz recently posted..Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Mascarpone Cream #SundaySupperMy Profile

  23. Kim (Feed Me, Seymour) June 15, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    I love love love these! but I’m totally the same way. I’d be screaming for fried food while my husband would be more about baking. That crispy crunch is all I need!

  24. laurasmess June 15, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    Haha… I am a huge fan of man food, despite being a somewhat skinny girl! I’m loving these big, beefy and delicious posts for Sunday Supper! Love your lighter take on the theme Susan. Prawns are absolutely delicious when cooked in a crunchy coating and I’m loving the coconut addition! Great persistence with the cooking method.. I cannot wait to try these xxx
    laurasmess recently posted..Brookwood Estate, Margaret RiverMy Profile

  25. Simply Gourmet June 16, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    Perfect timing of your recipe. I love deep fried shrimp and have been looking for a recipe to try. Looks fabulous!

  26. Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere June 16, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    This dish would be a treat for me in our house! Looks delicious!
    Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere recently posted..Healthy Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce {Pantry of Plenty}My Profile

  27. Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen June 16, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    Oh, my guy would flip for these!!

  28. Laura Dembowski June 16, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    I used to love coconut prawns more than I can tell you. I’d love to try these. I bet baking them isn’t the same – they just have to be fried.
    Laura Dembowski recently posted..Carob Chip Cookies #SundaySupperMy Profile

  29. Serena | Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch June 16, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Oh my goodness scrumptious! The pictures gorgeous and sure to please any man!
    Serena | Serena Bakes Simply From Scratch recently posted..Perfectly Pan Seared Steak For Fathers Day #SundaySupperMy Profile

  30. Nancy @ gottagetbaked June 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    You are amazing! I would never have the drive ‘n dedication to make the dozens of batches you did! Thank you for the tireless experimentation so that we can all benefit from this recipe. Your coconut shrimp looks absolutely perfect. Even better than what I get in restaurants.

  31. Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily June 16, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    Ummm, I could eat a pound of these as a main course! I would have to make several batches so the rest of the fam could have one or two 😉
    Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily recently posted..Red Chile Shredded Chicken Tacos. How to win over your man’s stomach
    and steal his heart #SundaySupper
    My Profile

  32. Cindys Recipes and Writings June 17, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    I’m glad you finally found a combination that worked! Amazing shrimp!
    Cindys Recipes and Writings recently posted..Smoked Turkey Drumsticks #SundaySupperMy Profile

  33. mjskit June 21, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    There are some things that just need to be fried. :) You’re right – the secret to frying is to get the oil hot enough. The cooking goes very fast and most of the oil stays in the pot. I’ve never made coconut shrimp but have eaten quite a few of them myself. Looking forward to trying your recipe. The shrimp look fabulous!
    mjskit recently posted..Bok Choy with Pecans and LemongrassMy Profile

  34. Michelle June 29, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    I just had coconut shrimp at a catered party last night! Thanks for sharing the recipe so I can recreate the tasty goodness!

  35. Jhuls July 2, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    These are scrumptious!!! The dipping sauce is such a great compliment to the delicious prawns. :) Thank you for sharing.
    Jhuls recently posted..Tricky Tuesday: Healthy-Baking-SubstitutionsMy Profile

  36. SBO April 30, 2015 at 1:30 am #

    This looks amazing, of course! And I love your creativity so keep doing what you’re doing. I like to eat a lot of shrimp.

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