Coconut Shrimp

(Jan. 3, 2020) The philosophy of possibility precludes existence and therefore is not in a state of actuality.

However, chance is capable of coming into being if thought and experimentation are a continual occurrence.

A chef’s point of view must start from the moment of conception if perfection is to come to the forefront.

Creativity must be nurtured to the fullest degree. It is then, and only then, that one achieves uniqueness and ingenuity.

Every dish deserves the utmost consideration. It is the smallest details that separates a cook from their competitors.

Fried coconut shrimp with dipping sauce has earned its place on menus across the Eastern Shore. Inquisition is a must if conclusion to reign supreme.

How one cooks the shrimp, the exact breakdown of the dredging process, and what type of dipping sauce are just a sampling of the uncertainties that must be worked out before consumption takes place.

If you relish the thought of fried coconut shrimp and want to learn the intricate thought process behind this delicious dish, read on.

Fresh or frozen shrimp is your first consideration.

Fresh is always the best choice, but I find frozen shrimp is just as good and much easier on one’s wallet. The frozen crustaceans are constantly on sale, and that makes them even more cost effective.

The size of the shrimp is another “food for thought.”

Large shrimp are the preferred choice. The larger protein will stand up to the batter and coconut and also be able to support the spicy marmalade.

One cannot fry shrimp without contemplating what type of oil to use.

Coconut oil is a healthy way to cook the shrimp and at the same time enhances the theme of coconut. But if one is on a budget, canola oil is perfectly acceptable and will yield excellent results.

A standard dredging setup includes an egg mixture, flour, cornmeal and panko.

But coconut shrimp requires a much lighter batter. Cornstarch, beaten egg whites, shredded coconut and panko will produce the crispy, airy texture that coconut shrimp is known for.

The dipping sauce is open to personal preference, but a fruity sauce is your best option.

The natural sweetness is a perfect pairing with the tropical coconut. The level of spiciness is up to the individual chef, but the “heat” will add depth of flavor and make for a more interesting dish.

Football playoffs are here and fried coconut shrimp with spicy, orange marmalade dipping sauce is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

If you serve it as a passed hors d’oeuvre, the shrimp will retain their crispy coating as opposed to leaving the shrimp on a plate for a considerable amount of time. Also, passed hors d’oeuvres are a clever way to control food costs.

No matter the occasion, fried coconut shrimp accompanied with spicy, orange marmalade dipping sauce will be a hit. Enjoy!

Spicy Orange Marmalade Dipping Sauce

½ cup orange marmalade

¼ cup duck sauce

1/3 cup red pepper jelly

1/8 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1 splash of rice vinegar

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon of lime zest

½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper seeds

a pinch of kosher salt

1. In a medium sauce pan, heat all ingredients over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Allow to cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

3. Remove dipping sauce from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Coconut Shrimp

½ cup cornstarch

4 large egg whites

1 cup unsweetened coconut

½ cup plain panko bread crumbs

1 pound large raw shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled, deveined, with tails attached

canola or coconut oil for frying

kosher salt to taste

fresh herbs, black sesame seeds and white sesame seeds as a garnish

1. Place the cornstarch in a shallow bowl. Whisk the egg whites until frothy and place in another bowl.

2. Toss the coconut and panko in another shallow bowl.

3. Working with one shrimp at a time, holding it by the tail, coat the shrimp (but not its tail in the cornstarch mixture then shake off the excess. Dip in the egg whites and shake off any excess.

4. Dredge the shrimp in the coconut-panko mixture, pressing lightly to ensure ample coating. Set aside on a large plate.

5. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.

6. Heat enough oil in a large skillet to have at last ½-inch thickness of oil. Heat oil over medium to medium-high heat.

7. Working in batches, add the shrimp. Do not overcrowd the pan and cook until golden brown, about 1 ½ minutes. Using tongs, flip the shrimp over and cook until golden brown. Remove the shrimp by the tail and place on a cooling rack to maintain crispness. Apply salt according to personal taste.

8. Present dish with dipping sauce and garnish with fresh herbs, black and white sesame seeds.

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