🍤 Crispy, crunchy, and perfectly seasoned with a wonderfully toasted coconut flavor, these tender shrimp are clean eating and gluten free and they make a great appetizer or main! 🍤
Mr. Kitrusy did not like coconut shrimp. When I would make this dish, I would fry a coconut-less batch separate for him. Having had them several times before at various events and restaurants, he always found them to be weirdly sweet and unpalatable with a texture he couldn’t quite stomach. Until one day one of my coconut shrimp got accidentally mixed in with his batch and he bit into it without realizing it. Three chews in and he paused and looked at me. Realizing what had happened I was prepared for an unfavorable reaction but he continued chewing, swallowed, and ate the other piece. When he was done he looked at me, “You know, I never thought I would say this, but I actually prefer the coconut shrimp more, can I have another one?”
These coconut shrimp are only slightly different from the ones you’ll find in most restaurants, frozen packages and other recipes because this recipe uses unsweetened coconut and doesn’t have any added sugars. The coconut flavor is mild and wonderfully toasty with just the tiniest hint of it’s own natural sweetness. More to that, without the added sugar, the coconut’s natural oils are able to help the texture be crispier and crunchier instead of chewy which sometimes happens when sweetened coconut is used.
For this recipe we’re using a gluten free flour and panko that’s made from pea protein. The panko had a chunkier crumb than standard wheat-based panko but trust me that the texture and crunch isn’t affected at all.
If you don’t have any issues with gluten you can use regular wheat flour and regular panko breadcrumbs, and if you prefer a sweeter shrimp you can opt to use sweetened shredded coconut. This recipe is quite forgiving and flexible.
Gather the Following Ingredients:
- Shrimp: Opt to use large, extra large or jumbo shrimp that are peeled and deveined. I prefer to remove the tails but you can leave them if you like.
- Flour: I’m using Bob’s 1-1 gluten free flour. If you have no issue with gluten or wheat-based products you can use white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: I’m using gluten free panko breadcrumbs that are made using rice flour and pea protein. If preferred you can use any panko of your choosing but I highly recommend using a panko over regular breadcrumbs for the best texture and crunch.
- Coconut: I’m using unsweetened shredded coconut for this recipe.
- Egg: One whole US standard large egg is all we need.
- Salt: Pink Himalayan or sea salt are great options to use.
- Pepper: Pre or fresh cracked black pepper is all we need to season our shrimp.
- Oil to fry: The final ingredient we’ll need is oil to fry our shrimp. I highly recommend using peanut oil since it has a high smoke point and is clean label. The amount of oil needed will depend on the size of your pan or pot but I recommend using enough oil to fill about 1″.
Time To Make Our Shrimp!
We’re going to prep our breading station with 4 bowls.
- Our prepped shrimp.
- Our flour, salt and pepper.
- Our egg beaten until frothy. You can add in a tsp of water if you like.
- Our panko breadcrumbs and unsweetened shredded coconut.
With our breading station prepped, it’s time to bread our shrimp. To do this we’ll toss them in flour until they’re coated, dip them into the beaten egg and allow the excess to drip off, and then we’ll add it to the panko and coconut and gently press them to allow it to stick to the shrimp.
- Keep one hand reserved for dry (flour and panko/coconut) and one hand reserved for wet (egg), that way it keeps your hands from getting gummed up and coated!
- Try not to over handle your shrimp once you place them into the panko/coconut because it will make the coating fall off.
With your shrimp fully coated, place your them onto a baking tray while you coat all the others.
And the biggest tip of all:
- Once your shrimp are all fully coated, allow them to rest for at least 10 minutes before you attempt to fry them. This allows the egg to dry and bind the coating to the shrimp which will keep it from falling off once we go to fry them.
With your shrimp coated and rested, we’ll heat our oil to 350F and set up our fry station with our tray of shrimp, a pair of tongs and a tray with a cooling rack to allow any excess oil to drip off our shrimp after frying.
Now all that’s left to do is fry our shrimp in batches depending on the size of your pot. The shrimp should start bubbling and frying as soon as you put them in. Be sure you’re keeping an eye on the temperature of your oil and fry until they are golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). This is important to allow the shrimp to cook through fully while ensuring that that coconut and the panko doesn’t burn.
Finally plate up your shrimp and enjoy them however you like!
These little shrimp bites are delicious on their own as an appetizer but you can always zhoosh it up with a dipping sauce, some great options include:
- Lemon: A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice is always a great accompaniment to any seafood dish.
- Sweet Chili Sauce: Made using sambal oelek, rice vinegar, raw cane sugar, tamari, and fresh grated garlic and ginger, this sauce is a go-to classic.
- And while a simple sweet chili sauce is divine on it’s own you can do variations by reducing the sugar and adding a bit of either orange or apricot marmalade.
- Honey Soy: Honey, soy sauce or tamari, a touch of rice vinegar, and fresh ginger and garlic makes a phenomenal dipping sauce that complements the toasted coconut.
- Ginger Soy: Similar to the honey soy above, this sauce uses soy or tamari, fresh ginger, garlic, sugar, and a touch of toasted sesame oil.
- Tartar Sauce: Made from Greek yogurt, dill, pickles, salt, pepper and lemon, this simple tangy sauce will forever be a classic pairing for anything seafood.
- Caesar Dressing: While this may not be the most common sauce pairing for coconut shrimp, the creamy, garlicky sauce works well. Bonus points if you replace the fresh garlic with some roasted garlic for a more umami flavor.
- Barbeque Sauce: This easy homemade BBQ sauce is a great dipping option whose flavors work well with the crunchy shrimp and toasted coconut.
- Pineapple Sauce: Pairing coconut and pineapple together is a no-brainer and this simple sauce combines Greek Yogurt, crushed pineapple, sugar and salt together and if you enjoy the flavor, feel free to sprinkle in some freshly chopped cilantro and maybe even add a touch of red pepper flakes to spice things up!
These shrimp also makes for a great side or entrée. Here’s some things you can serve it with.
- Rice: The mild flavor of the shrimp pairs amazingly well with any rice side. Some great options are plain steamed rice, coconut rice or this simple coconut “saffron” rice.
- Pasta: Shrimp and pasta are restaurant quality pairing. Choose your favorite pasta (linguini anyone??) and pair it with this homemade alfredo sauce and serve your shrimp on the side. Heaven! Or a serving of creamy, cheese mac and cheese also pairs well.
- Gnocchi: Part pasta, part potato, a serving of gnocchi tossed in pesto works well with the crunchy shrimp.
- Potato: Honestly a simple side of French fries or sweet potato fries pairs amazingly well or these twice baked potatoes with leek, these individual au gratin potatoes, or an ever classic side of creamy mashed potatoes.
- Veggies: Some simple tray baked veggies are not just easy but also delicious to pair with your shrimp, or even a simple side of coleslaw or even a simple salad such as a Cobb Salad – just swap the chicken for shrimp! Or a veggie forward Broccoli Salad. Another great option is to place your shrimp into these simple and healthy Summer Rolls which pairs perfectly with a variety of dipping sauces!
That’s it for another post! I hope you guys enjoy these crunchy coconut shrimp. Did you try this recipe? What did you think? What do you guys like to pair your shrimp with? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Easy Coconut Shrimp (Gluten-Free, Clean Eating)
- Set up your breading station: Combine the salt, pepper and flour together in one bowl. In another bowl combine the panko and coconut flakes In the third bowl, beat your egg thoroughly together with 1 tsp of water.
- Bread your shrimp: Dust each shrimp in the flour, shake off any excess and then dip it into the egg to cover all sides. Place the egg-dipped shrimp into the panko/coconut and cover the topside with more panko/coconut, pressing down gently to make it adhere to the shrimp.
- Rest: Place the coated shrimp onto a tray and allow them to rest for at least 5-7 minutes before frying so that the breading can set, this ensures it won't fall off while frying.
- Heat oil: Pour enough oil into a heavy-bottomed saucepan to cover about 1-2" and bring the oil to 350°F.
- Fry your breaded shrimp in batches (starting with the ones that have been resting the longest) until golden brown which should take about 2-3 minutes. Be sure to gently flip your shrimp over to allow for even cooking.
- Once fried, remove from the oil and place onto a wire rack with a plate or paper towels below it to catch any excess oil.
- Serve immediately for the best results. If you have leftovers, using an airfryer is a great way to reheat and re-crisp your shrimp.