I am so excited to share this coconut shrimp recipe with you today. You may remember me talking about the Christmas Eve traditions in my mom’s family. My grandma always adhered to the Italian “seven fishes” tradition, and for a long time she made all of the old-time fish: eel, smelts, baccalà, calamari, etc. We were, without a doubt, the best-smelling family at midnight Mass (total sarcasm there!). Not many of us really like all of those different types of fish, so over the last few years we began revamping our menu so that expensive seafood isn’t wasted. We played around with crab legs for a couple of years, but then found a crab cakes recipe that everyone loved. In addition, this coconut shrimp has become a menu mainstay. Everyone goes crazy for it; there would be a revolt if it wasn’t made!
I love this coconut shrimp recipe because it’s so easy to prepare and the frying takes mere minutes. While we’ve all been thrilled with this shrimp for a few years now, the one thing that has been missing is an equally impressive dipping sauce. The coconut shrimp I’ve eaten in restaurants is routinely served with some sort of spicy fruit marmalade. The best I’ve had was at the Outer Banks Brewing Station, where they served a mango-jalapeño salsa alongside their coconut shrimp. I’ve tried a number of store-bought sauces and salsas, but haven’t been overly pleased with any of them. This mango dipping sauce is the perfect accompaniment – it’s sweet, and just spicy enough (although you can adjust the hot sauce if you prefer it more spicy).
Even though our family makes this dish a Christmas tradition, it’s certainly a fabulous summer dish. It reminds me of sitting in Florida at open-air restaurants, enjoying the breeze. Whether you make it a summer tradition, holiday tradition, or an everyday tradition, you’ll be sure to love this!
Make the Mango Dipping Sauce: Place all of the dipping sauce ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until completely smooth. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve (will keep for 1 week).
Make the Shrimp: Whisk together the flour, spices, salt and sugar in a shallow dish or pie plate. Lightly beat the eggs with the water in another shallow dish. Combine the coconut and panko in a third shallow dish.
Heat the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, coat and bread the shrimp. Working with several shrimp at a time, drop them into the flour mixture and turn to coat. Shake the excess flour from the shrimp, then dip the shrimp into the eggs, turning to coat well, and allow the excess to drip off. Drop the shrimp into the coconut-panko mixture, and press the coconut lightly to adhere. Shake off any excess coconut and place the shrimp on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.
When the oil reaches 350 degrees F, gently place half of the shrimp in the oil and fry, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until golden, about 2 1/2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, spider, or tongs, transfer the shrimp to a wire cooling rack placed over a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining shrimp. Serve immediately, accompanied by the mango dipping sauce.