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
- Prep time 25 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 25 minutes
- Serves 4
- Pineapple-Habanero Salsa
(800g / 1 3/4 pounds) fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1” pieces (about 1 pound. peeled and cut)
(40g / 1 1/2 ounces) small onion
chile habanero, stemmed and seeded
large garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
teaspoon finely grated orange zest
to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Kosher salt, to taste
- Coconut Shrimp
(1 pound) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground allspice
large eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
shredded dried coconut, preferably sweetened, divided
(125g / 4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
virgin coconut oil or vegetable oil, for frying
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve warm shrimp on a platter with salsa. Salsa is better the day after and can be made ahead.