Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Chili Mayo

Please welcome guest author Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen as she treats us to fabulous shrimp coated with panko and coconut flakes. ~Elise

In my kitchen, there are a handful of Asian ingredients that I’m never out of. There’s the usual like soy sauce, oyster sauce and ginger, of course. But, there’s the other category of foods that are so versatile, they can be used in any style of cooking, whether Asian, Italian or Greek.

And at the top of that list is panko bread crumbs. Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb that really shouldn’t be named “crumb” but rather bread “flakes.” It’s incredibly light, airy and crisp/crunchy when fried.

What I like about panko is that it doesn’t absorb as much oil or grease as regular breadcrumbs and its super-thin flakes create an airy, lacy coating that you can’t achieve with regular breadcrumbs.

Making crabcakes? Use panko for a lighter, delicate result. Baked fried chicken is ten times crisper with a panko coating.

In this recipe, the coconut shrimp is coated in flour, egg/coconut milk and then a panko/coconut flake mixture.

Do you know why we have to coat the shrimp in all of those ingredients, in exactly that order? Well let’s work backwards. If you want a crunchy coating, whether it’s panko, breadcrumbs, crushed potato chips or crusted saltines – you gotta get it to stick to the food. Try taking a naked shrimp and patting panko on the surfuce. It doesn’t stick well. If you try to fry it, all the coating will come off into the oil.

But guess what? Panko sticks to egg!

So does egg stick to shrimp? Nope. It slides right off.

And hey, egg sticks to flour! Flour sticks to shrimp!

Now you get it?

Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Chili Mayo Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

If you are using frozen shrimp, defrost by placing in a bowl of ice water. Raw shrimp should always be kept chilled. Safety note regarding frying, always keep a lid for the pan close by, as well as ice.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili-garlic hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 pound tail-on shrimp, shelled but leave tail on
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk (or regular milk)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • Oil, for frying

Method

1 In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce and the chili-garlic hot sauce (optional). Set aside.

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2 With a paring knife, slice down deep at the middle of the back of the shrimp, but do not cut all the way through. Discard the black vein/tract.

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3 Set three shallow bowls side by side. Place flour in the first bowl; whisk the egg and coconut milk in the second; and combine the panko and coconut flakes in the third.

4 Heat 2 inches of oil in a sauté pan over moderate heat until thermometer registers 350°F.

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5 As the oil is heating, bread the shrimp by dipping the shrimp on both sides in the flour and shaking excess off. Next dip in the egg/coconut milk mixture and then in the panko/coconut flakes, patting to ensure the coating sticks well.

6 Fry the shrimp in small batches for 2-3 minutes until golden brown on both sides. Serve with Sweet Chili Mayo for dipping.

Coconut shrimp photos by Jaden Hair.

34 Comments

  1. Monica

    This looks excellent. I will have to look in the ethnic market here in Switzerland for panko breadcrumbs. I meant to pick some up last time I was in the US but completely forgot… I’d love to hear what people might serve to accompany this for a full meal… I’ve only ever had coconut shrimp as an appetizer in a restaurant.

  2. jonathan

    Yum-a-licious. I like serving coconut shrimp with a pineapple salsa with a few finely minced Thai chilis thrown in for good measure. Just to remind everyone that life isn’t always so sweet.

    As far as breading, the rule of thumb I was taught was that to best make panko/batter/bread crumbs stick to your “protein” — fish, beef, poultry — never use a protein on another protein as a glue, e.g., chiken strips, then flour, then egg (protein) wash, then crumbs, etc.

  3. Lisa

    Jaden, this is so wonderful! Thank you; I’m making coconut shrimp on New Year’s Day now. ;)

    A restaurant in my town serves coco shrimp with a curry aioli, and that’s a fabulous combo. Your sauce sounds divine as well. Happy new year!

  4. Sophia

    Wow!! I definitely have to try this. Think I can fry in coconut oil too (the cold pressed kind.) Kids will like this for New Years. My mouth is actually watering as I think about it!! (TMI maybe??)
    I love coconut shrimp, but too often it’s gummy and covered in too much sauce in Chinese restaraunts. This recipe sounds like you can taste the shrimp under the coating.

    Thanks Elise & Jaden!

  5. Sally

    I LOVE coconut shrimp, but it’s something that I have away from home. No one else likes coconut and one family member is allergic to it. Sigh…

    But I can do something similar without the coconut…

  6. Lynn

    Sounds great. I have been making coconut shrimp for some time and love the idea of adding the panko bread crumbs. I have been looking around for a good dipping sauce, yours sounds great. One thing I do is prepare my shrimp a day ahead to save time. I let it sit in the fridge overnight and that will set the coconut from falling off. I also saw a great idea for presentation. I cut a pineapple in half and core out the center and fill it with the dipping sauce, my friends are always impressed and it takes no time.

  7. Home with Mandy

    This does look really great! if these were to be made as a party appetizer do you think the crispy panko would get soggy sitting out? Should they be consumed right away? What about adding sweetened coconut to the panko?

    The shrimp should stay crispy for a couple of hours ~jaden

  8. Chinese Treasure

    I just tumbled on your blog searching for recipes to make for my new year dinner. Your blog looks very nice and professional. Do you have assistant and professional photographers to take all these instructional pictures… I like these pictures a lot, very illustrative.

  9. beej

    I’ve made something similar, after having a delicious coconut shrimp dish at a local restaurant. Their tip, that I shamelessly use for extra coconut flavor – use coconut pudding mix instead of flour in the dipping process. Oh yeah baby, yummy yummy coconut-ty shrimps.

  10. Jeff R.

    I wish I’d read your explanation of how to make panko stick a few months back when I was trying to make fried calamari rings. Thanks for the tip!

  11. Nate

    Funny, as soon as I saw the title, I guessed that it was a Jaden recipe.

    Is this going to be in your new cookbook, Jaden?

    Nope, not in the book, I was going to include this recipe but totally forgot! ~jaden

  12. Meilin

    Omg that sounds fabulous! Crunchy and shrimp, just what I was dreaming of. Thanks for the recipe and yummy photos!

  13. Janet

    Yesterday I defrosted 2lbs. of shrimp for our “left-over Christmas ham jambalaya” and only used 1 1/2lbs. I saw this recipe this a.m. and had almost everything on hand I so made this for an appetizer this evening (yeah, diets all around next week) for my husband and myself. I didn’t have coconut milk or chili sauce. I used skim milk and improvised on the dipping sauce with just mayo and cocktail sauce. I don’t think it mattered. THE SHRIMP WAS TO DIE FOR! I’ll be anxious to try it with the proper sauce but the compromise wasn’t bad! We’ve decided to have it again Wednesday evening for our New Year’s Eve supper. Thank you so much for such an easy, delicious recipe!

  14. Sherihan

    Could you please tell me what I can substitute for panko bread crumbs? I can’t find it here in Egypt.

    You can substitute regular bread crumbs. ~Elise

  15. melanie

    I can’t wait to make these. Also, about the chili mayo–I keep a mixture of mayo and sriracha in the fridge and put it on everything. It’s amazing on roasted vegetables, sandwiches, fish, etc. I’m totally addicted, and it’s possible that I’ll make these shrimp just so I’ll have something else to put the spicy mayo on.

  16. CRJ

    I made this tonight, but used regular coconut as opposed to the sweetened. I think that if the dish had more of a coconut flavor, I would probably not have liked it as much. I also put a little bit of white pepper into the egg mixture for the hell of it. It was very very good. I used salted butter, red onion, coconut milk, and chicken stock in the rice that I made to go with it. It came out nicely. Still trying to figure out a veg to go with it all. Any ideas?

    A great veg side dish would be something simple, like vegetable skewers. Marinate chunks of red bell, zucchini, tomatoes in a store bought gingery or miso salad dressing. Skewer and grill ~jaden

  17. Diana

    Where can I find Sweetened Coconut Flakes? I’ve only seen the unsweetened kind in Whole Foods.

    WF might have it in their baking section, but if not, try a regular grocery store. I seem to recall having difficulty finding this in WF. BTW, the unsweetened version won’t taste nearly as good. Something to do with the chemistry, and how the sugar helps preserve the volatile coconut flavor elements. Was explained to me once by a pastry chef friend of mine. (One of those things that went in one ear, rattled around the brain for a while and then made a quick exit.) ~Elise

  18. Sherihan

    Yes but there was a comment saying that regular bread crumbs will get soggy and not crispy. any way this recipe looks deivine, will try it sometime.

  19. Grace

    I bake almost exclusively so please excuse my ignorance. This caught my eye and I’d love to try it since I love shrimp, but I’m allergic to coconut. In the comments someone said that the coconut milk could be switched out for skim milk, but what about the coconut flakes? Would it ruin the shrimp to take them out entirely and just use a full cup of panko? Would it even be worth it to try?

    Why not switch out the coconut for something like sesame seeds? ~Elise

  20. Paul

    I made this recipe last night and it was excellent!
    I followed the instructions except I used an electric wok.
    Thank you for introducing me to panko; I am eager to try it as breading in other recipes.

  21. Ellen

    I can’t wait to try this shrimp recipe!! My husband often buys frozen coconut shrimp from the grocery store, this will be so much better. I have always had difficulty butterflying shrimp properly. The wonderful illlustrations are very helpful, I will never have that problem again. Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Andi

    These were great – I baked them instead of frying (didn’t want to make a mess) and they turned out just fine, served with coconut scented jasmine rice and steamed broccoli. Loved the sauce – will def make these again, thanks for the great recipe.

  23. Kelly

    This looks yummy! Any suggestions for a gluten-free version?

    You can use GF breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs. Are there GF saltine crackers? Those would work great. Pulse in food processor.~jaden

  24. Seon-Joo Yang

    I made the shrimp dish for my daughter’s birthday party (buffet) today, and it was the first dish that disappeared in less than 10 minutes! Oh it was so good! Thanks so much for your wonderful recipe. I am a big fan of your site, by the way. Happy New Year!

  25. Chad

    Does anyone have a favorite sweet chili sauce brand you like? I’m dying to make this, but don’t have the sweet chili sauce (i do have the hot garlic-chili).

    Suggestions on brand?

    I like Mae Ploy brand. ~jaden

  26. Gastylin

    Oh my- these were AMAZING! I prepared the shrimp exactly as written with perfect results- light, crispy and only slightly sweet- a plus as my man will shun anything he “thinks” to be too sweet.

    On the sauce, I had to improvise a touch. Without having sweet chili sauce on hand, I used Sriracha toned down with a bit of sweet rice wine vinegar. We had some extra garlic chopped so I added that as well. Perfection. It was a nice bite to the gentle shrimp. We cooked 2# for 4 people and I managed to save 2 for my lunch today. What a great way to start the week,

    Thanks for your great site!

  27. Ben

    These turned out great. I did have a slight problem with the coconut flakes. I went for unsweetened/organic as opposed to the sweetened/nonorganic. Unfortunately, they turned out rather large and did not stick as well to the coating. I also couldn’t find any organic sweet chili sauce, but the traditional type tasted great.

    Does anybody know any good tricks to devein shrimp quicker? That is a chore.

  28. heather

    I am new to the world of frying and this was my first real projects.

    Turned out very well! This is going in the favorites file.

    The prep was tedious but worth it.

  29. shellsea cortes

    I made this recipe minus the panko breadcrumbs substitute with seasoned fish fry breadcrumbs and it came out A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!! And the spicey mayo… i added a little crushed pineapples and juice… amazing… thats all my husband could say :)

  30. Arielle

    WOW! I loved this recipe! The panko is so amazing. I had been making coconut shrimp with a beer batter and it was also good, but been wanting to try panko. I decided to combine 2 recipes. I used the beer batter and then dipped them in the coconut/panko mixture. It was delicious. I was very impressed with the dipping sauce! I usually use sweet chili sauce/pineapple/honey, but the mayo and chili sauce was so much better! Love IT !

  31. Omeghan

    For me the trick in using Panko as a breading is to do all of the dipping, flour, eggs, panko, etc…..

    Then, place the dipped items to set up a bit or the Panko tends to fall off in frying. Set the Panko items, covered, in the fridge 1/2 hour to an hour, at least, and then return items to room temperature before cooking. (works for shrimp, chicken, etc)

    The Panko absorbs the moisture from the egg and sets up and adheres better to the “food”. Less loss of crunch when cooking !!!. Enjoy !

  32. rumgirl

    I made this tonight to go with my roasted tilapia and baby bok choy with a citrus sauce served over white rice. I used Pampered Chef’s spicy pineapple rum sauce to dip the shrimp in! We rarely fry anything but I thought I would make this as a special treat for the hubby tonight. I thought I made too much but somehow we devoured it all! This was a fantastic and easy recipe! Hubby wants me to make this for his mother!!! Thank you!

I apologize for the inconvenience, but comments are closed. You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page ~ Elise.