Coconut is everywhere in Thailand. There’s coconut milk in almost every dessert, coconut ice cream, coconut in the alcohol and most of all, fresh coconut water that’s served in the coconut itself after you watched an incredibly agile Thai man shimmy up a tree and chop it down with a machete. Even after the show, I thought my first sip from a coconut was kind of disgusting – along with my second and third… and I never sipped from a coconut again. Sure it was inescapable in desserts, but that was hidden with an insane amount of sugar and sweetness. While I happily sipped a Pina Colada, I passed the coconut shavings off to my friends.
But then I came back to America. I began using coconut oil for cooking after a friend who was trying a “Whole 30” introduced it to me through the dinner she prepared. It didn’t taste so much like the coconut I remembered and so I really enjoyed it! I then tried coconut flakes in a smoothie she made and well, I thought that was good too… so I gave coconut another go. After all, for the first 20 years of my life I refused to touch a banana and now I eat one every morning. Maybe coconut was becoming my new bananas.
Growing up, Fried Shrimp was a main part of my diet. My grandpa made it all the time since it was my brother’s favorite food and my dad would often make it too, using milk & eggs and breadcrumbs. When I was old enough to cook on my own, especially in college, it became a weekly meal. The older I got the more adventurous my cooking and dieting became and I was always intrigued by trying new things. A favorite crumby coating of mine was eventually discovered – a combination of almond meal and coconut flakes – and I was instantly hooked.
This shrimp pairs nicely with so many side dishes to make it a meal. Try cauliflower rice for a Paleo/low-carb friendly meal, brown rice, quinoa or even a crunchy salad and vegetables. I’ve tried it all and can’t even begin to find a favorite but this particular dinner was made with multi-grain rice and sesame-ginger green beans and it was pretty damn good.
Coconut Shrimp with Sesame-Ginger Green Beans
For the shrimp…
20 Medium Shrimp – Fresh or defrosted, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup almond meal
Few Tbs almond milk
Coconut Oil/ Coconut Oil Cooking Spray
Salt & Pepper
For the green beans…
About 1/2 pound green beans (I buy them by the pound so I used about half the bag)
2 Tbs liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs sriracha
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs grated ginger
1 Tbs sesame seeds
I buy frozen shrimp and so the first thing I do is defrost them for a few minutes in hot water. Then, I peel them and de-vein them.
Preheat your oven to 375. Scramble an egg in a bowl with a bit of almond milk. Mix the coconut flakes, almond meal, salt & pepper together and lay that out on a plate or shallow bowl.
TIP: If you don’t have almond meal, finely chopped almonds will work just as well or even just plain coconut.
Line a baking sheet with tin foil (recommended) and spray with coconut oil or melt some and spread it evenly with a paper towel. Dip each shrimp into the egg, coat with the coconut mixture and place onto the baking sheet. Repeat until you have no more shrimp left. Spray the top with coconut oil again (or give it a drizzle) and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the coconut crisps.
Prepare another small baking dish with tin foil and coconut spray for the green beans.
Rinse and trim your beans. Then blanch them quickly in a hot pan with a few inches of water. While that’s happening, prepare the sauce. Just combine the aminos, vinegar, sriracha, sesame oil, honey and sesame seeds in a small bowl and whisk together.
Once your green beans are nice and bright and all/most of the water is evaporated, transfer them to the baking dish. Pour the sauce over top and bake for 10-15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
Serve with multi-grain rice or quinoa.
BONUS RECIPE: I tried this quick pickled onion from Bon Appetit to add a little tang to my dish. I also just LOVE onions. I prepared this before everything else and so they sat for about 40 minutes. I kept them in the fridge and used them throughout the week to brighten up my salads. YUM.