Coconut Shrimp With Pineapple-Habanero Salsa (Camarones al Coco)

April 16, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by Rick Martinez
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Coconut shrimp, or camarones al coco, is one of those things that I don’t think people eat enough of. I normally eat shrimp ceviche or aguachile if I am craving shrimp when I go out. But if I see coconut shrimp on the menu my heart starts racing and my mouth waters—yes it’s that good. And until I developed this recipe, I didn’t realize that it was pretty easy as well.

The hardest part of this is cleaning the shrimp but if you can buy cleaned and deveined shrimp then you are halfway to coconut heaven. I used sweetened coconut because, well, I am Sugar Man. But use what you have or use what you like, either will work. I used coconut oil to fry them up because, why not? I mean, if you love coconut (and I assume if you are reading this recipe you do), then push that flavor as far as it will go. But if you don’t have it or don’t want to buy it, just use vegetable oil and it will taste amazing.

I have paired the shrimp with a pineapple-habanero salsa that was inspired by a beachside restaurant here in Mazatlán. They serve their shrimp with a pineapple jam. It is really sweet and pretty tasty but had no heat. (I got the impression that this dish was on the kids menu but you know what, I am not afraid to love this dish!) My slow-roasted pineapple salsa has the heat and from a habanero. Yes, the salsa on its own is hot, but it has a lot of delicious richness to cut through. I have also added some orange zest and juice to add to the tropical vibe of this dish. I want you to feel like you are eating this dish under a palapa on the beach in Mexico, with me! —Rick Martinez

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Coconut Shrimp With Pineapple-Habanero Salsa (Camarones al Coco)
  • Pineapple-Habanero Salsa
  • 1/2 (800g / 1 3/4 pounds) fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1” pieces (about 1 pound. peeled and cut)
  • 1/4 (40g / 1 1/2 ounces) small onion
  • 1 chile habanero, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1 teaspoon teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Coconut Shrimp
  • 453 grams (1 pound) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 cups shredded dried coconut, preferably sweetened, divided
  • 1 cup (125g / 4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups virgin coconut oil or vegetable oil, for frying
  1. Blend pineapple, onion, habanero, and garlic in a blender on medium-low speed until almost smooth. You want to see bits of the orange habanero in the salsa. Transfer to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until reduced by half and every thick, 45 to 65 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange zest, orange juice and season with salt. Thin and sweeten with more juice if necessary and set aside until ready to serve.
  2. In a medium-heavy pot fitted with a thermometer, pour oil to come about 1 inch up the sides. Heat over high until thermometer registers 325°F.
  3. Meanwhile, toss shrimp with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, pepper and allspice in a medium bowl until completely coated. Arrange half of coconut and all of the flour on two separate plates (pie plates work well).
  4. Working in small batches, dredge shrimp in flour, turning to coat and packing into crevices. Shake to remove excess; transfer to sheet pan. Dip shrimp into egg mixture, tap against the side of the bowl to allow excess to drip off, then pack coconut firmly onto shrimp to completely cover. Gently shake off excess; return to sheet pan. After you have breaded about half of the shrimp, you will have used most of the coconut and what is left will be slightly wet from the egg; discard and continue working with remaining 1 ½ cups of dried coconut.
  5. Working in batches, fry shrimp until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per batch. Adjust heat level during frying to maintain a consistent temperature. Transfer to a paper towel–lined sheet pan. Repeat with remaining shrimp.
  6. Serve warm shrimp on a platter with salsa. Salsa is better the day after and can be made ahead.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kristin Ta
    Kristin Ta
  • Nayeli Naranjo-Robles
    Nayeli Naranjo-Robles
  • Fahimeh
  • Jesse Vermeulen
    Jesse Vermeulen
Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

4 Reviews

Fahimeh August 1, 2022
This was such a great recipe! I used unsweetened coconut flakes and it turned out really well. The one habanero added just enough heat, and the sweet pineapple made up for the unsweetened coconut. The next day I cut up the shrimp and added it to scrambled eggs. So good!
Jesse V. March 6, 2021
Yet another knock out recipe from Rick! I live in the Netherlands, so had to make a few substitutions and it still came out very well. I used large flakes of desiccated coconut and fried the prawns at a slightly lower temperature, in a mixture of coconut and regular oil. I used a Surinamese Madame Jeanette chilli instead of the Habanero and it worked perfectly. I'm definitely going to make this again and will try to source the sweetened coconut, because I think the prawns would really benefit from it.
Kristin T. February 13, 2021
Made the shrimp for dinner tonight. We skipped the pineapple salsa and did a roasted pineapple coleslaw instead. I was a little nervous about using the sweetened coconut to coat the shrimp, but it was great! Not too sweet at all, and the crunch was perfect. Will definitely be making this again. Easy and so good!
Nayeli N. February 6, 2021
Absolutely delicious! As soon as my boyfriend and I saw the video we bought the ingredients and had a go at it. Super easy, super yummy, will definitely be cooking this recipe again.

Side note - We don't know if we got a bad habanero or what but we actually wanted the salsa to be spicier! but then again we love spice :^D
The two of us also finished this 4 serving dish in one Rupauls Drag Race episode haha