In Ben Mim’s single ingredient-focused book, Coconut, he cracks open tips and tricks for cooking this tropical fruit into both savory and sweet dishes.
The basic appeal of coconut shrimp—that of balancing briny shellfish with crunchy sweet-nutty coconut and deep frying the whole thing—is undeniable. But I (and I’m sure many of you) have been a victim of too many coconut shrimp crimes, whether it was at parties with bad catering or in fry-happy airport restaurants. So here’s my attempt at redeeming the brilliance of a simple premise. I use real, unsweetened coconut and fry the shrimp fast so they stay moist inside but crunchy on the outside. It’s the “real deal” because you won’t be able to stop eating them and won’t have to feel bad about it either.
- Make the shrimp: In a large bowl, combine the shrimp, coconut milk, chile and lime zest and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. In a shallow dish, beat the eggs; in a separate shallow dish, combine the dried coconut, salt and pepper. Place the coconut flour in a third shallow dish. Working in batches and holding the shrimp by the tails, remove the shrimp from the marinade, coat in the coconut flour, dip in the egg and then dredge in the shredded coconut.
- Add the shrimp to the skillet and fry, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, remove the shrimp from the oil and transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Halfway through cooking, if necessary, strain the cooking oil through a fine-mesh sieve to filter out any bits of coconut that begin to burn, then return the oil to the pan and continue cooking the remaining batches.
- Make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the chutney until evenly combined.
- Serve the shrimp hot with chutney mayo for dipping.
Ben Mims is a New York-based food writer, recipe developer, and author of Short Stacks Editions: Coconut and the cookbook Sweet & Southern. Previously the kitchen director of Lucky Peach, his work has appeared in Food & Wine, Food Network, Jarry, Saveur, and more.