When I was little, shrimp did not qualify as seafood. Seafood was the stuff my mom picked up at the dreaded fish market (my twin brother and I used to hold our noses in protest whenever she made us go in with her) and was what she might have made for people coming over for dinner once her bratty brood was safely out of the way, upstairs watching The Love Boat. But SHRIMP! Oh man, shrimp was something else entirely. We liked it one way: On ice with cocktail sauce, and whenever possible hooked around the rim of a wide champagne glass. Because if we were eating it that way, it meant we were out to dinner somewhere special — I can’t remember a single time I ate shrimp at my own dinner table growing up. (Or at my friends’ dinner tables either come to think of it.) This is amazing to me, considering today shrimp is perhaps as popular in our house as pizza is. Which is great, except for the fact that it is perhaps as popular in our house as pizza is. In other words, how to keep things interesting and not fall back on tacos and Phoebe’s favorite 5-minute spicy shrimp again and again? The answer — at least for this week — seems to be adding coconut to the dredge. This gave the shrimp a sweet crunch (I can’t remember seeing a new meal disappear so fast from Abby’s plate) and added just enough of an excitement factor to an otherwise kinda boring salad for the grown-ups.
Coconut Shrimp (& Salad)
Because it involves a couple steps, this meal isn’t so great for a time-crunched weeknight. I suggest making the shrimp for Sunday dinner, then using the leftover pieces to inspire the salad for dinner the next night. Since the shrimp is so rich, even a meager amount of leftovers can be stretched a long way.
For Coconut Shrimp Prepare your dredging stations: 1 plate flour, 1 plate whisked egg, 1 plate panko (or bread crumbs) with a big handful of unsweetened coconut flakes mixed in. (I had coconut flakes and just used my hands to crumble them into the panko mixture.) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge about 20 pieces of large shrimp first in flour, then in egg, then in coconut panko. Add to skillet and fry until golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes a side. Remove and drain on a paper towel as you cook your batches. Serve with a little bowl of yogurt-curry dressing for dipping. (Or ketchup.)
For Salad: In a salad bowl, mix together greens (any kind), and a handful of each of the following: chopped grape tomatoes, chopped mangoes, scallions, and about 6 pieces of cooked coconut shrimp (also chopped). I found myself wishing I had jicama for some crunch in here, but I didn’t (I don’t think jicama has ever been in our kitchen come to think of it) so I just added a little shredded cabbage. Toss the whole thing with yogurt-curry dressing.
For yogurt-curry dressing: For dressing, whisk together about 3/4 cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon curry powder, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon-ish sugar, a big squeeze of lemon, a little chopped fresh cilantro.