Coconut Curry Shrimp
Would you believe me if I told you I have never been able to successfully fry shrimp before tonight?
Would you believe me if I told you the reason I was never successful at doing it was because my oil was never hot enough, and that I didn’t realize that until recently?
And would you believe me if I told you the way I found this out was from watching copious amounts of Chopped?
Well, it’s all true. I feel a bit silly that I only now realized what my issue was. I always assumed my oil was hot enough. If I threw a chunk of something in the oil, it would sizzle. Apparently not enough, though. But seeing as how I almost never fry anything (I even bake my frozen store-bought french fries), I can let it slide, a little. For the handful of times a year I do fry things, I use my little Fry Daddy and I make tortilla chips. I could have slapped together fried shrimp and done it that way – the failproof way – but I haaaate having to change out oil often and I’d have to if I did seafood, at least for the next time I want to do chips. So I don’t do it.
Having watched many-a episode of Chopped starting last weekend into now, I’ve picked up a lot of fun, helpful tips to make me a better cook. Including their foibles of oil that’s not hot enough. It dawned on me during one episode when a contestant complained of their oil not being where it needed to be and I literally slapped my forehead and exclaimed, “That’s my problem!” I don’t even think they were frying shrimp, either.
I’ve been wanting to make coconut noodles for awhile now and decided with all this newfound time on my hands (my hours at work were cut so I no longer work Thursdays until further notice), I’d do something a little ambitious for dinner, meaning I’d be frying some shrimp. However, I got on the treadmill for half an hour, passed out on the couch for an hour or so after that, while watching Forrest Gump, and sat around rehashing my day with The Fellow™ once he got home. I didn’t start this process until almost 5:30. Which is a liiiittle late to be starting a many-step meal, but at the same time, we’d be eating closer to 7 and I’d be less likely to want to eat again at 9. Regardless of everything, it all worked out and I’m extremely happy with the outcome of the shrimp. I won’t be making it a habit to fry shrimp – mainly because I loved sauteed shrimp more – but this was a supremely tasty meal (noodles and shrimp) that needs to be repeated in the future. Maybe when we have Thanksgiving company this year, it’ll be one of the weekend meals I make…
The end result is very curry-y and has ample salt. If you’re salt sensitive, I’d dial back just a wee bit (but not too much, because it does pair with the curry nicely for a good flavor kick).
As a side note, I had about 10 pieces of tail-on shrimp and the rest were tail-off and I found the tail-on to be much easier to work with, since you have a little natural handle to hold while you dredge it through the various breading stages. I also liked the easy poppability of the tail-off shrimp, though, so the option on which to use is entirely up to you or what you bought at the store.
Coconut Curry Shrimp
16 pieces shrimp, tail-on or tail-off, deveined
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon curry powder
2-3 teaspoons salt (based on preference)
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon water
enough oil to fry
1. Set up a station of a (1) bowl of flour, (1) bowl of the egg and Tablespoon of water, beaten together, and (1) bowl of panko, coconut, curry, salt, and pepper, well mixed. Toss the shrimp in the flour, followed by a dunk in the egg, and in the panko mix. Be sure the flour coats the entirety of the shrimp (if using tail-on shrimp, the hard shell tail does not need to be floured or breaded) and the egg covers all of the flour. Breaded shrimp can be set aside until you’re ready to fry them.
2. Heat oil (in a heavy bottom pan or in a fryer) between 350º to 375º. If you don’t have a thermometer to test the heat of the oil, toss a small bit of breadcrumb into the oil. It should sizzle immediately. If it blackens quickly, the oil is too hot. If there is no sizzle, it needs to be hotter. You can also toss a small crustless chunk of white bread in the oil to test. It should brown and crisp in about 60 seconds.
3. When the oil is ready, carefully put shrimp in. Be careful not to drop them in, to avoid splashing. Also take caution to not crowd the shrimp. Let fry for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. With a heat proof slotted spoon, remove the shrimp from the oil and set aside on a heavily paper-toweled surface to remove excess oil. The shrimp’s breading will continue to brown a little, so don’t be shocked if they end up being darker than when you pulled them out of the oil.
If the breading process doesn’t wear you out entirely, you can pair this with a bed of coconut noodles.