Quick Coconut Shrimp

While no one is exactly sure about the origins of crispy coconut shrimp, they have become menu favorites at restaurants and homes alike and their sweet, slightly spicy flavor evokes images of southeastern Asia ... where coconuts thrive and warm days are the norm. So when we're all looking forward to the sunny days of summer, it makes sense that our menus come to feature more tropical dishes that embody that warmth.

While coconut shrimp is often a fried dish, I put together a quick baked dish that brings all of the flavor associated with the dish you'd order at a restaurant with less fat and even less mess. Instead of fussy batters, I opt for a hot sauce seasoned mayonnaise mixture, which you can just toss with the peeled shrimp in a bowl or even a resealable bag. Then the seasoned crumb mixture gets pressed onto the shrimp and a rest in a hot oven does the rest. If you want to put together a dipping sauce, anything with a tropical flair will do (I used a mango honey mustard mixed with a bit of mayo). Feel free to grab something out of a bottle or just have them as is ... it's all good.

While there are instructions for assembling the coconut coating, I was fortunate enough to discover a box of coconut panko at my local Aldi and just had to give it a whirl with these tender shrimp -- it was perfect! The seasoned mayo does a great job of maintaining moisture while the coating crisps up perfectly in this decidedly hot oven. It's a perfect recipe for mid-to-late spring because we've not had truly hot weather yet, so cranking up the oven doesn't feel like a great way to cook your family too. So enjoy this dish while the weather encourages it.

I like to serve shrimp like this alongside simple dishes, like a nice rice pilaf and a fresh cucumber salad. Since coconut shrimp is such a fun texture and flavor showcase, make the supporting dishes do just that: support. With a prep time of about 20 minutes, you might get several opportunities to enjoy this one before it's time to move the heat into the backyard and the grill. So get ready to enjoy tropical flavors before the weather is reminding you of the tropics a bit too much!

Quick Coconut Shrimp

  • 1 pound large shrimp, 16-20 count
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (or other hot sauce)
  • ½ cup panko* (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 cup coconut flakes*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet; set aside.

Peel and devein the shrimp; mix with the mayonnaise and sriracha or other hot sauce; set aside.

In a shallow bowl, mix the panko, coconut flakes, and spices.

Roll the coated shrimp in the seasoned coconut mixture. Place the shrimp on the baking sheet.

Bake the shrimp until cooked through and the coating is starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve hot.

* Instead of panko and coconut flakes, I used 1 ½ cups of a great coconut panko mix from Aldi. You can, of course, mix your own as described above.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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