Having never made coconut shrimp before, I was quite pleased with myself when I made this. My only mistake was to under-season it slightly, so I’ve noted in the recipe to add salt and pepper to the dredge as well as the sauce.
The only other thing that might make this better would be a coconut-rum cocktail, or other tropical drink. Something sweet to balance the warmth of this dish. Alas, if only I had one!
Quinoa Crusted Coconut Shrimp with Fiery Red Pepper Sauce
(Makes 4 servings)
1 lb. shrimp, shelled but with tails on
1/4 cup coconut milk, unsweetened, full fat
1 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, separated
3/4 cup quinoa
Salt and pepper
1 cup coconut oil, for frying (or other neutral oil)
For the red pepper sauce
3 red bell peppers
3 Fresno chilis (or other fresh red chilis)
3-4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4-12 tsp. sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Extra coconut milk, for garnish (and to add balance to the sauce)
Shell, rinse, and dry shrimp, or thaw and pat thoroughly dry if frozen. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, along with a pinch of salt and pepper (perhaps a 1/4 tsp. of each), until finely powdered. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and coconut milk. Set aside.
In another dish, toss together the remaining coconut flakes and quinoa. Set aside.
Dredge shrimp in the powdered coconut mixture, then dip into the egg and coconut milk. From there, toss lightly in the coconut and quinoa, and set aside on a plate.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom skillet until glistening. Gently lay 4-5 shrimp in the pan, and let cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until golden brown on one side. Flip, and cook for another minute. Remove to a paper towel lined plate, and repeat with the rest of the shrimp.
For the red pepper sauce:
Preheat oven to 425f.
Remove the stem and seeds from the bell peppers, and slice in half. Press each half flat with the palm of your hand, and lay skin side down on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet.
Do the same with the chilis, removing the seeds as you feel necessary – remember, that’s where most of the heat is. Remove them all and there will be little to no heat, but leave them in for a kick.
Note: be careful not to touch your face/eyes while handling chilis! I recommend wearing gloves to avoid any unwanted burning sensations.
Place baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes, or until the skins have begun to char slightly.
Transfer the roasted peppers to the food processor, and add the garlic and cilantro. Blend until smooth, then add seasonings (and extra hot sauce if you’d like) to taste.
Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk.
And a tropical coconut cocktail, if you have one.