This week's chef for the Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge is Alton Brown. This was the hardest week for me to choose a recipe for so far because as I browsed through his recipes I found myself bookmarking and bookmarking and bookmarking. Although I finally narrowed it down to one recipe to make for the purpose of this challenge, I do have a number of his other recipes on the "to-do list" such as garden vegetable soup, squash soup and sweet potato waffles (I'm hoping some of the rest of you chose these recipes so I can see some reviews!)
The recipe I ended up choosing was coconut shrimp. Although you may have heard me mention my dislike for coconut in the past, coconut shrimp is one of my very favourite treats. I am not sure what ever possessed me to even try it because I cannot handle even the tiniest bit of coconut but I did and I'm glad. Actually, now that I think of it, I think the FD's aunt made it for our survivor finale party once and I decided to try it and fell in love.
A few weeks ago, there was a really great sale on frozen shrimp and we grabbed a few bags to stock up. So, I thought this would be a perfect time to try this favourite of mine, since I usually only have it at a restaurant or out of a box from the grocery store.
Coconut Shrimp - adapted from Alton Brown
Makes 4-6 servings (or more if using it as an appetizer)
24-30 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (the recipe also suggests butterflied but I didn't both with that)
1/2 cup cornstarch (I think you could do just fine with 1/4)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 egg whites (the recipe calls for 4 - totally not necessary)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (the recipe called for 2 1/2 but I thought that was a lot so I started with just 1 cup and was glad I did or else I would have wasted a lot. Unless you have big shrimp, you won't need that much)
1. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel.
2. In a small bowl combine cornstarch, salt, pepper, and cayenne.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy.
4. In another bowl, place the coconut.
5. Coat the shrimp with the cornstarch and shake off any excess.
Dip into the egg white and then press into the coconut to get full coverage (Oops - I did it backwards with the first few and went egg, cornstarch then coconut. My bad.) Try to keep 1 hand dry, this will keep things a little cleaner (Alton is right - this sure was helpful!).
6. While the recipe instructs you to deep fry the shrimp, I decided to stick with baking it to avoid the use of the oil. I was kind of worried I wouldn't like it as much as I am not a fan of coconut but it worked great. If you wish to bake it like I did, place shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 375 for 6 minutes. Turn shrimp and continue baking for another 6 minutes, until the coconut is crispy and the shrimp is done. I turned on the broiler for the last minute to really crisp it up.
I skipped the peanut sauce suggested in the recipe and served it with sweet and spicy thai sauce. The shrimp were definitely lighter than traditional coconut shrimp since they were baked rather than fried but the flavour was delicious and the texture of the coconut did not bother me at all. I will definitely be making this again!