Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Habanero Sauce

½ cup rice vinegar

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 habaneros

2 cloves garlic, grated

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 large egg

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 cup shredded coconut

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ pounds jumbo shrimp (16/20 count), peeled and deveined

¼ cup all-purpose flour

Canola oil, for frying

 

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, habaneros, and garlic in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened and slightly syrupy. Remove from the heat and stir in the fish sauce. Let cool to room temperature.

 

Whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons of water in a large, shallow dish. Mix together the panko, coconut, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in another large, shallow dish. Season the shrimp generously with salt and pepper. Dip each shrimp into the flour to coat and shake off any excess, then into the egg wash, and then into the panko mixture to coat, patting so that it adheres. Arrange the shrimp in a single layer on a baking tray and let rest for about 15 minutes. 

 

Add enough oil to a large, heavy pot to come to a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil to 375°F. Add half of the shrimp and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a skimmer, remove to a paper towel-lined baking tray and immediately season to taste with salt. Fry the remaining shrimp in the same manner. Arrange the shrimp on individual plates and serve immediately with the habanero sauce.

 

Serves 4. When frying, be sure to use a pot that's large enough to accommodate the displacement of the oil from the shrimp and also the bubbling of the oil.

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