Coconut Shrimp with Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce

Do you guys like shrimp cocktail? It’s such a popular appetizer but honestly I’ve never been a huge fan. Or really a fan at all, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I love shrimp (and pretty much all seafood for that matter!), but not when served cold. Similarly, although I could eat fish every day of the week, I won’t touch smoked salmon or pickled herring. Both are very popular with Shane’s family at Christmas time, but I haven’t acquired a taste for either.

Also? Not a sushi lover. I know, everyone thinks it’s like the best thing ever, but it just doesn’t do much for me. I’ve tried it a ton of places and every time I walk away feeling the same way – wishing I’d ordered something else :)

Coconut Shrimp with Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce

Fried shrimp is another story entirely though; I absolutely love it! It’s not as readily available in restaurants here as I’d like it to be however, so I decided it was time to learn to make it at home. I tried a few recipes (including some that were baked), but this fried version from Cook’s Illustrated was far and away my favorite. It’s so easy too – a quick breading process for the shrimp and then just 2 minutes in the oil before they’re ready to eat. You wind up with perfectly golden brown shrimp that have the most crispy coating yet are tender inside. There’s coconut flavor, but not so much that it’s overwhelmingly sweet. I won’t even tell you how many of these shrimp I ate myself after making the recipe, it’s just plain embarrassing… I whipped up a simple sweet and spicy dipping sauce for the shrimp but I would have been just as happy eating them plain.

Coconut Shrimp with Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce

This holiday season I’ll definitely be pushing to replace shrimp cocktail with coconut shrimp :) It’d be great finger food for any party!

Coconut Shrimp with Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce
shrimp adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (originally seen on Brown Eyed Baker), sauce from Bobby Deen via Food Network

{Note: The recipe calls for extra-large shrimp, but you can make it with medium or large too. You’ll just want to keep an eye on them in the oil, they’ll take slightly less time.}

Shrimp
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 lb extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled and deveined
vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup orange marmalade
4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a pie plate (or other wide, shallow dish) mix together the flour, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and sugar. In a second pie plate use a fork to beat together the eggs and water. Mix the coconut and panko together in a three pie plate.

Add about 3 cups of oil to the bottom of a Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Heat the oil to 350 F (use a candy thermometer to register the temperature) while you begin breading the shrimp.

Set a wire rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Working with a few shrimp at a time, place them in the flour mixture and turn to coat. Shake off the excess, then transfer them to the eggs. Turn to coat then allow the excess to drip off and move them to the coconut-panko. Gently press to adhere the mixture to the shrimp then shake off any excess and transfer the breaded shrimp to the wire rack you set up earlier. Repeat to bread all of the shrimp.

Line a second rimmed baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels. Set aside.

When the oil reaches 350 F, gently add about half of the shrimp to the pot and fry, stirring frequently with a spider strainer to prevent sticking, until they are golden, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Use the spider strainer to remove the shrimp to the prepared baking sheet. Return the oil to 350 F before adding the remaining shrimp and frying them. Serve the fried shrimp immediately with the dipping sauce.

To make the dipping sauce: Combine the marmalade, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and set over low heat. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.