About once a year, my friend Brian and I get together to make coconut shrimp. I’m the first to admit that I’m embarrassingly slow when it comes to peeling and deveining the shrimp, and it took us a few tries to really establish a rhythm. At first, we were exhausted and quite hungry by the time the last shrimp came out of the oil. That exhaustion was likely the reason coconut shrimp has only been an annual event, but our hunger definitely made for an enjoyable eating experience. With wild gulf shrimp currently available at the local seafood markets, the time had arrived to enjoy this favorite of mine.
As I’ve gained more and more experience in the kitchen over the years, making these shrimp has become a more enjoyable experience. What can I say? I live in the middle of a continent, with the closest ocean well over a thousand miles away, so good quality shrimp aren’t all that easy to come by around here. I’m a little out of practice. Give me a beef tenderloin to butcher, and I can make quick work of it, but seafood? Not so much.
Even with my shortcomings, this dinner still can come together quickly. It’s all about finding your rhythm in the kitchen; if you do a lot of cooking, this likely is not an issue for you. But several years ago, when I was first starting scratch cooking, I have to say, it took me quite awhile to gain my footing and really learn how to manage several things coming together at once.
But even if you’re a novice in the kitchen (or just with seafood), this meal is well worth your time. The added bonus? You can always make cocktails with that drink mix you have on hand.
Though I haven’t tried it yet, coconut chicken would also probably be a fantastic substitute, for those of you who aren’t fans of shrimp.
Coconut Shrimp with Piña Colada Sauce
adapted from Robbie’s Recipes
1 c corn starch, divided
2 c plain bread crumbs
2 c sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 c liquid piña colada drink mix, divided
2 T powdered sugar
1/3 c coconut rum
1/3 c sour cream
1/3 c finely diced pineapple
1 lb raw 16-20 count jumbo shrimp
Place 1/2 c cornstarch in small bowl, set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine bread crumbs, 1/2 c cornstarch, and coconut flakes. Mix to combine and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix 1 c piña colada drink mix, powdered sugar, and rum. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 c piña colada drink mix and the sour cream. Add pineapple and whisk to combine. Refrigerate.
Heat oil in dutch oven or deep fryer to 375*F.
Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp. Coat shrimp in corn starch, then dip in piña colada/rum mixture, then in bread crumb mixture, again in the rum, and back to the bread crumbs.
Carefully lower shrimp into the oil, being careful not to overcrowd. Fry until golden brown and remove to a plate covered in paper towels. (Don’t worry about the shrimp getting cold when you’re frying multiple batches, they really retain their heat.)
Serve shrimp with the refrigerated dipping sauce.