Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

Cravings are a weird thing. Like little goblins, these self-destructive compulsions clamber up from the bowels of human nature, despite our best efforts to suppress them. I usually pride myself in avoiding packaged and processed foods, but there are times when I can’t help but succumb to a craving for something fast and fried. The other day, I was strolling the aisles of my local grocery store minding my own business, when a craving for Coconut Shrimp lept forth into my consciousness.

At times like these, most people would hop into their SUV and drive to the nearest Outback Steakhouse to pick up a platter of Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp. Unfortunately I have neither an SUV or an Outback nearby, and so I was left to my own devices to come up with something to appease my inner demon. Shredded dried coconut and jumbo shrimp in hand, I headed home to see what I could concoct.

For those of you that have never had it, Coconut Shrimp is essentially shrimp that has been “breaded” in shredded dried coconut before being deep fried. The golden brown tendrils of fried coconut not only provide a crisp crunch, they also contribute a wonderful nutty flavor that compliments the shrimp.

Most restaurants will butterfly the shrimp because it allows them to use cheaper smaller shrimp, while making them appear bigger. While this does give more surface area for the coconut to cling to, the thin shrimp tends to dry out and ends up chewy. That’s why in my version I decided to leave the shrimp intact, with the exception of making some incisions along the belly of the shrimp to keep them from curling.

The results turned out great! Biting into the crispy crust of coconut practically squirts shrimp juice into your mouth, while the spicy sweet sauce rounds out the briny shrimp. Best of all, this took under thirty minutes to make, which makes them perfect canapés for a party or a fun appetizer when you have friends over.

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    Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce
  • Giant prawns covered with crisp golden brown tendrils of shredded coconut with a hot and tangy orange chili dipping sauce.
ServingsPrep TimeCook Time
4 10 minutes 15 minutes




  1. To make the sauce, add the marmalade and Thai sweet chili sauce to a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until bubbly (about 30 seconds), then stir in the lemon juice.
  2. Leaving the tail-on, shell and devein the shrimp. If you want to prevent the shrimp from curling when you fry them, make a series of perpendicular incisions about 1/4" apart along the inside of the curl. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, then generously salt and pepper both sides.
  3. Prepare three shallow bowls, 1 with flour, 1 with the egg, and 1 with the coconut. Dust each shrimp with the flour, then dip them dip them in the egg. This combination acts as the glue for the coconut, so make sure you don't miss any spots. Finally, lay the shrimp on the coconut and sprinkle some of the coconut on top, pressing on the shrimp to make sure it gets a nice thick coating. Lift the shrimp up by it's tail and give it a wiggle to shake off any excess coconut. Repeat with the rest of the shrimp
  4. In a heavy bottomed pot, add 1" of oil and heat over medium high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F. Fry the shrimp in batches, until golden brown, flipping once half-way through. Skim off any foam that surfaces. Drain the coconut shrimp on the paper towel lined rack and serve with the spicy orange sauce.
  • Goghoti

    I have a similar recipe that uses corn starch instead of flour – great for those folks who have a gluten intolerance!

  • Bee

    Oooh I love coconut shrimp and dang it now I need my fix, like now! 

  • julienmedina

    looks so good! where do you buy dried coconut? i don’t think i’ve ever seen in..

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Julien, I’m not sure where you live but in the US, they usually sell dried coconut in the baking section of supermarkets near the flour/sugar/baking soda. There’s usually 2 types sweetened and unsweetend. Make sure you get the unsweetend kind. If your supermarket does not have it, try a health foods store. 

    • DJMatt

      You can also buy fresh coconut and grate it buy hand. As long as you know how to open one. Not to mention you get the bonus of the Fresh Coconut water for an excellent thirst quencher later after exercising. Which is full of Electrolytes, natures gatorade.

      • Marc Matsumoto

        Fresh coconut will not work in this recipe. The water content of the flesh is too high. Save the fresh coconut for making coconut milk.

        Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

        • DJMatt

          Ah, but, I have done this. You just have to press the grated coconut through a fine sieve to get out the extra moisture after grating or if you want just dry it slowly in the oven at a really low temp. Where there is a will there is a way my friend :) Especially if you cant get the unsweetened coconut where you live. Like me.

  • chicagosdomesticdiva

    OMG that looks out. of. sight!

  • Oui, Chef

    Gorgeous, and something I absolutely will try.

  • stacy

    Found your blog via you tube! Thank you for the awesome photography tips and for this refreshing recipe.  Will try this as since coconut is quite abundant here in the Philippines. =D

  • Nadia

    I love shrimp, and looking at your post, my mouth is watering terribly… Unfortunately, I developed an allergy to shrimp and sea food. :(  I wonder how I could get rid of it.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      You could probably replace the shrimp with chicken. Obviously won’t be the same, but I think it would be good in a different way:-)

      • Nadia

        Of course it won’t be the same…  You suggest to make kinda chicken fingers rolled in coconut? Sounds interesting.  When my husband is away on a trip, I will do it entirely for myself  - he hates coconut.
        I like your photos. :)

  • JulieD

    I love coconut shrimp! This looks great, Marc! I will have to try it soon!

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  • Donn

    I’m dying!!!! We had some at a Red Lobster in San Diego whilst on holiday there, and have never forgotten!  THANKYOU for sharing. I know my son and husband will be in prawn paradise when I get around to trying this recipe.

  • Bea Long

    OMG!! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge to everyday people like me that cannot afford to eat out but love good food. My heartfelt thanks!

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  • Sandi

    Hi, I would love to make these to take to a party – can I make in advance?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Sandi, you could make it in advance, but the coconut will most likely lose it’s crispness by the time you get it to the party. These might work better for preparing in advance:

      • Sandi

        Hi Marc, thank you so much. Yes I thought that might be the case. These look brilliant. Thanks again.

  • Jazmine Bu

    Hi Marc! I only have sweetened coconut. Can I use that instead? Is it a huge difference?

    By the by, I’m in love with your blog. Your recipes make up my boyfriend’s lunch all the time~

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Jazmine, I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the site. As for using sweetened coconut, I would not recommend it. It will make it very sweet and the sugar in the coconut will burn when deep frying. You could unsweeten the coconut by soaking it in several changes of water over a day or two until it’s no longer sweet and then drying it again in a low temperature oven, but unless you can’t find unsweetened coconut where you live, it’s probably not worth the effort.


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!