Extra-Crispy Coconut Shrimp

updated Oct 2, 2020
Extra-Crispy Coconut Shrimp

A few smart tricks make these fried coconut shrimp extra crispy and flavorful.

Serves4

Prep5 minutes

Cook10 minutes

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Extra crispy coconut shrimp being dipped in chili sauce.
Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe | Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe

As a teen of the ’90s and former frequent patron of Red Lobster (my all-time favorite chain restaurant), I’ve always loved coconut shrimp. The coconut calls out to my tropical sensibilities, and I don’t need to convince you of the glory that is crispy breaded shrimp. Whenever a platter of the nostalgic appetizer is set in front me, I gleefully pop them into my mouth one by one until every last morsel is consumed.

I’m not sure why some foods go “out of style,” but I wanted to let you know that the ’90’ called — and they want you to eat this shrimp. Here’s how I whip up an extra-crispy, extra-delicious version at home.

Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe | Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe

For Extra-Crispy Shrimp, Treat Them Like Fried Chicken

For the crispiest coconut shrimp, I took a cue from our fried chicken battle and used cornstarch instead of flour in the breading procedure. Then, I doubled down on the crispy exterior by dipping the shrimp in beaten eggs and then into a mixture of sweetened shredded coconut and panko. Fry them in a little oil (strain and reserve the oil for another use) and you’re back in that Red Lobster booth shoving Cheddar Bay Biscuits into your purse for later.

Some people like to dip their shrimp in orange marmalade or apricot preserves, but I like to dip mine in Thai sweet chili sauce. However you like it is the only right way.

Extra-Crispy Coconut Shrimp

A few smart tricks make these fried coconut shrimp extra crispy and flavorful.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 3/4 cup

    finely shredded, sweetened desiccated coconut

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 1 cup

    cornstarch

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 pound

    peeled, cleaned, tail-on medium shrimp (21 to 26 per pound)

  • 4 cups

    vegetable or canola oil, for deep frying

  • Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving

Instructions

  1. Place 1 1/4 cups panko, 3/4 cup finely shredded coconut, 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt in a medium bowl, pie plate, or 8x8-inch baking dish, and whisk to combine. Place 1 cup cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt in a second shallow bowl and whisk to combine. Place 2 large eggs and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt in a third shallow bowl or pie plate and whisk until combined.

  2. Pat 1 pound cleaned and peeled shrimp dry with paper towels. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

  3. Working with 1 shrimp at a time, toss it in the cornstarch mixture to coat completely. Dust off any excess cornstarch, then dip it into the egg mixture. Let any excess egg drip back into the bowl, then toss in the panko mixture, pressing the crumbs into the shrimp to adhere. Transfer to a plate.

  4. Place 4 cups of oil in a large saucepan, attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer, and heat over medium-high until 365ºF. Meanwhile, line a large plate with paper towels.

  5. Working in batches of 5 or 6 shrimp, fry in the oil, stirring or flipping the shrimp as needed so they brown evenly, until deep golden-brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the plate to drain. Serve immediately with sweet chili sauce for dipping.