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.