Here’s one of those recipes where tourists to the Caribbean may have more experience with than everyday islanders. When I posted the video (see below) for this coconut shrimp recipe on facebook, a fan mentioned that this is something more common in the tourist areas in the Caribbean. Though I tend to agree, I must also point out that any sort of fusion restaurant you go to in the Caribbean you may find this on their menu and I’m sure these restaurants are not in business to only cater to tourists (open to the public).
Whenever we’re in the Caribbean it’s our mission to search out restaurants with coconut shrimp on their menu as nothing beats having this made with freshly caught shrimp and flakes of coconut done earlier in the day. Rather than the frozen and prepackaged stuff we get in North America. Additionally, with the cool Caribbean breeze… along with an ice-cold Stag (any Caribbean larger) and a spicy mango dipping sauce.. time to relax and take it easy island style.
Here’s a quick coconut shrimp recipe you can whip-up the next time you have friends coming over or you’re attending a company potluck and something “island like” is expected from you…
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tea spoon pepper flakes (see note below)
1 lb shrimp (16-20)
1-1/4 cups coconut flakes (I used sweetened)
vegetable oil, for frying (about 3-4 cups)
*Lime juice for washing the cleaned shrimp (lemon juice works just as well)
Note: I used 16-20 tiger shrimp since that’s what I got on sale. Tiger shrimp tends to be a bit more expensive, so use what’s affordable. Instead of using the pepper flakes I mentioned in the ingredient list, I opted for habanero pepper (freshly chopped), as I love the flavor and heat from it. You may also use scotch bonnet, cayenne powder or any flavorful hot pepper you like. If that sort of heat is not your thing, use fresh grounded black pepper. BTW, check your Asian grocery store as they usually have the bets deals on shrimp.
We’ll start off by preparing the shrimp. I was lucky enough that my shrimp was already deveined, so all I had to do was remove the sort of shell-like outer layer. But I kept the tail part for appearance and handling. Then using a pairing knife, I cut a deeper slit along the same line as it was deveined (around the natural curve) to butterfly the shrimp. The idea is to cut deep enough, but not cut all the way through. The video at the bottom should help you better understand the technique. Wash with the juice of 1 lime and cool water. Then drain/pat dry.
Next up we’ll make the batter. In a bowl, place the eggs, salt, pepper (I diced my habanero pepper very small) and flour.. then give it a good whisk. You should have a smooth, but runny batter.
The next step is to set up a sort of assembly line with the cleaned shrimp, coconut flakes (on a plate) and batter. I also lined my chopping board (you can use a cookie sheet) with parchment paper. The idea is to batter all the shrimp before you start, as they will cook very fast and you may not be quick enough when frying.
Holding each shrimp by the tail we left back when cleaning, dip them into the batter (coat evenly), then pat onto the coconut flakes. You may need to pat it on a bit to stick properly. Then place the now coated shrimp onto the parchment lined chopping board. Repeat until all the shrimp are coated.
I don’t use a thermometer to check actual temperature, but the oil should be heated to about 375°F (190°C). Start adding the shrimp (about 5-6 at a time) and try not to over-crowd the pan. They will start curling in and change color as they cook. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, then take out and drain on paper towels to get rid of the excess oil. If you’d like to prevent the shrimp from curling, see the video below to see how I used a skewer to help them keep their shape. The idea is to get the coconut golden brown that the shrimp is coated with.
This coconut shrimp is best enjoyed hot. However, you can cover them with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for about 4 hours. Then heat in a warm oven at 350F/180C oven until crisp and hot, about 6 minutes. The mango dipping sauce to accompany these tasty coconut shrimp is very easy to make and the full recipe for that can be found in the video below.
Though not a traditional “Caribbean” dish, this coconut shrimp is very tasty and be warned that you will get hooked the very fist time you try it. Before you go I invite you to leave me your comments below.. even if it just to say hello. It’s always appreciated. And don’t forget to join us on facebook and do check out the cooking videos.