Crunchy Coconut Shrimp

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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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  1. says

    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!

  2. says

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

  3. says

    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.

  4. says

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

  5. says

    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

  6. says

    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

  7. says

    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.

  8. says

    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

  9. says

    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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