Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
Coconut shrimp is a feel-good summer dish, but it’s most often fried, which means a heavy hand at the fryer can lead to an overbearing dish. This homemade baked version of coconut shrimp is just as tasty but lighter and healthier in comparison, and more approachable for those who don’t want to be wiping grease off their kitchen counters.
While shopping for the shredded coconut, opt for the sweetened version (unsweetened coconut will result in a shell that is crunchy but bland) and select the thin shreds rather than large flakes or ground powder.
The coconut smells heavenly as it toasts in the oven. Baked shrimp won’t show off the same golden color as fried versions, but they deliver just as much crunch and flavor.
The dish isn’t complete without a dipping sauce. This one is made from apricot preserves, cider vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes. It’s a sweet sauce, with the red pepper adding background heat rather than outright spiciness. (If you decide to add more heat, consider pairing the shrimp with a sweeter style of Riesling.) As a nice accompanying side dish, try white rice stirred with diced pineapple and dashes of chopped cilantro and lime juice.
For the wine pairing, I stuck with whites. An Italian Trebbiano d’Abruzzo was fresh and light on its own, with notes of green apple, kiwi and a subtle stony undertone, but when tasted with the sweet coconut and sauce, the mineral hint became jarring and the wine’s tart twang was out of balance. I wanted something with a fuller fruit profile.
A Riesling from New York's Finger Lakes delivered. Faint honeysuckle and lime laced the nose, with a riper flavor profile of yellow apple; the elegant fruit flavors of the wine and the sweetness of the coconut and sauce heightened each other. The wine's acidity was just enough to keep the whole combination balanced.
Pair with a fruity white like Wagner Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 2016 (88 points, $15).
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Approximate food costs: $25
For the dipping sauce:
For the coconut shrimp:
1. To make the sauce: Mix the ingredients in a bowl and transfer to a small saucepan. Cook the mix on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until the preserves have achieved the consistency of a sauce, stirring occasionally.
2. To make the coconut shrimp: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Set a baking rack on a foil-lined baking sheet (to catch any falling coconut bits or panko crumbs) and put in the oven as the oven heats, to allow the rack and sheet to get hot.
3. Set out 3 medium-sized bowls. Pour half the flour into the first bowl. In the second bowl, mix the remaining flour, sugar and salt, then slowly stir in the milk. Let rest for about 5 minutes. In the third bowl, pour the panko bread crumbs and coconut and mix.
4. Remove the baking rack and sheet from the oven, and spray the rack lightly with cooking spray. Dip each shrimp into the bowl of flour, then into the bowl of wet batter, then into the bowl of the panko and coconut mix, coating all sides evenly. Place each shrimp onto the hot baking rack and, when all the shrimp are ready, cook in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. The breading will turn crispy but not change color, so don’t wait for the coating to turn darker and risk overcooking the shrimp. Serves 4.