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Recipe of the Week: Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Sweet and Sour Sauce


PHOTO PROVIDED Chef Loretta Paganini

If you like shrimp and you like coconut, this recipe is hard to resist. I first tried this dish at an island restaurant. A local favorite dish, I couldn’t believe how delicious it was; I couldn’t wait to go home to try to make it. This is my version of this Florida classic, now a family favorite served with sweet and sour sauce. Makes about 20 pieces. (Chef tip: Use new vegetable oil when frying the coconut shrimp, preheated, and cook about 5-6 shrimp at the time until golden in color; do not overcrowd them.)

1 pound shrimp (about 18-20), peeled, de-veined and butterflied

1 cup sweetened coconut, shredded

1 cup plain fine bread crumbs

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

3 tablespoons dark rum

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Vegetable oil, as needed for frying

Combine Old Bay, powdered sugar and rum in a small mixing bowl. Add the shrimp and set aside to marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine coconut and bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Place flour, eggs, and bread crumb mixture into three separate bowls. Dredge the shrimp in flour and shake off excess. Next, dip the shrimp thoroughly in the egg and rub against the side of the bowl to lightly remove excess. Finally, coat the shrimp thoroughly with the bread crumb mixture. Lay out the shrimp so they do not touch on a parchment-lined baking sheet until ready to fry.

In a large Dutch oven, heat several inches of oil to 350°F. Fry the shrimp in batches until golden brown and cooked through, about three to four minutes per batch. Be careful not to overcrowd shrimp in the oil while frying. Drain on paper towels. Serve with sweet and sour sauce.

Pineapple Sweet and Sour Sauce

(makes 1 cup)

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or red chili paste to taste if you like it hot)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

In a small non-reactive saucepan, combine rice vinegar, juice, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.

Mix cornstarch and water until cornstarch is dissolved. Add a small amount of the cornstarch water to the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. If sauce is desired thickness, remove from heat and cool before use.

If sauce is still a bit thin, add more of the cornstarch water and thicken as needed.