Who else loves fried food but doesn’t exactly love deep frying at home? The heat, the splatters, having to dispose of all that oil afterwards… But we still want our yummy, crispy fried foods, right? I’ve come up this Coconut Shrimp recipe that captures everything we love about fried foods, without the mess and the hassle. I honestly prefer the flavors of this one to the standard Coconut Shrimp: the coconut flavor is so much more pronounced and the tamarind dipping sauce is a perfect marriage. Best of all, you can prep the shrimp ahead of time, and just bake right before serving, making this perfect for all the upcoming holiday gatherings.
Tamarind Dipping Sauce
What is Coconut Shrimp without a great dipping sauce? This one comes together in seconds. The tamarind concentrate is at once sweet and tart. The mayo adds a creamy richness, soy sauce a hit of umami, and a little brown sugar and garlic powder to round it out.
Now that the sauce is done, it’s time to prep the shrimp. I butterfly them to provide more surface area for the crispy coconutty coating. Also, it will crisp up more evenly and look attractive on your plate.
If you buy IQF shrimp (individually quick frozen) already peeled, it should take less than a minute to prep each shrimp. I used a jumbo size, which makes for a dramatic presentation, but it’s definitely a luxury. If you’re using smaller shrimp, which would taste just as delicious, cook them for less time to avoid tough overcooked shrimp.
The butterflied shrimp will look like this:
Real Coconut Flavor
Coconut Shrimp is such a popular appetizer in restaurants. But I’m frequently disappointed when I order it, as you can barely taste the coconut. When I first tried to make it at home, I reached for unsweetened coconut flakes. I always have them at home and I’m naturally inclined to avoid adding extra sugar. That first attempt was pretty good, but the coconut flavor wasn’t as pronounced as I wanted. I switched to sweetened flakes, you know-the kind you find in the baking aisle. Mixing the sweetened flakes with panko provided all the deep coconut flavor and crunch I was craving.
The key to oven frying I’ve found is to give the coating a head start. Raw crumbs never achieve the crisp crunchy texture in the oven, no matter how much oil you use. Toasting the bread crumbs and then the coconut in a pan will make a world of difference. Try the technique for any oven-fried recipe that requires crumb coatings. You will get results that are so good, you may not go back to deep frying at home.
I line up the shrimp, flour, eggs, and coconut breadcrumbs. Having it all set up minimizes mess and makes quick work of dredging the shrimp.
Then the shrimp gets dredged in the panko coconut mixture. I take the time to lightly press it on, we want that coconut crunchy goodness on every bite.
Bake the shrimp until golden brown, about 10 minutes total. Keep a close eye because shredded coconut can burn pretty quickly and you don’t want tough overcooked shrimp. Alternately, you can cook these in an airfryer on 400 for about 10 minutes. With either cooking method, you don’t need to flip the shrimp.
You can prepare the shrimp and keep them in the fridge overnight and bake right before eating. They also freeze beautifully, and you can cook them straight from the freezer, making this a perfect party food! I hope you enjoy these easy Coconut Shrimp as much as we did, leave a comment below and rate the recipe. And let us see your creations by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
Tamarind Dipping Sauce:
- ¼ cup tamarind concentrate
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 Tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp, (13/15 count)
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Tablespoon Neutral Oil
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 4 dashes salt
- A pinch of ground black pepper
- Oil Spray
- Combine all the sauce ingredients (tamarind concentrate, oil, garlic powder, mayonnaise, light brown sugar, and soy sauce) in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Pat the shrimp dry and then cut ¾ of the way through the back of the shrimp. Flatten the shrimp gently (either with your hand, back of your knife, or a heavy cup) so it’s butterflied. Set aside.
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the panko breadcrumbs and the oil. Toast the breadcrumbs for 2-3 minutes, moving them constantly, until they are a nice golden color. Set aside in a bowl.
- Heat the same pan over medium heat and add the coconut flakes. Toast them in the pan the same way: 2-3 minutes on medium heat, moving them around, until lightly golden. (The coconut flakes will not be completely golden, which is fine because they will finish toasting later in the oven). Add them to the bowl of toasted panko breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
- Combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder in a shallow bowl and use a fork to stir to combine. Set aside.
- Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Set aside.
- Season the shrimp with the salt and pepper and toss to combine.
- Line up your dredging station with the shrimp, flour mixture, egg wash, and coconut breadcrumbs.
- Take one shrimp and dredge the shrimp in the flour so it’s completely coated. Dust off any excess flour and then dip it into the egg. Finally put the shrimp into the coconut crumb mixture. Lightly press the coconut into the shrimp so it is well-coated. Set aside on a plate and continue dredging the remaining shrimp.
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spray generously with the oil spray. Line the shrimp on the baking tray and spray the top of the shrimp again with the oil.
- Bake the shrimp for 10-12 minutes until the shrimp are golden brown. Serve immediately with the tamarind sauce on the side.
*You can prep and refrigerate the shrimp to bake the following day.
*You can also prep the shrimp and then freeze them on a tray until frozen solid. Then store them in a freezer bag until ready to bake. Bake them straight from the frozen state, adding 3-4 more minutes to your cooking time.
Keywords: coconut shrimp, tamarind, baked