Crunchy coconut shrimp appetizer with a sweet and spicy dip of apricot preserves + pepper jelly.
Updated August 1, 2022
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.
I kicked up the heat to broil.
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.
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
Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce
- 3 tablespoon apricot preserves
- 3 tablespoon red pepper jam
- Bring the shrimp to room temperature. Line a baking sheet with a doubled thickness of paper towels
- Pour enough peanut oil into a heavy pot to nearly submerge the shrimp, and heat over medium-high heat to between 375 - 400˚ F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve with the Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce.
Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce
- Stir together the apricot preserves and red pepper jelly.