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Crispy Quinoa-Coconut Shrimp

This sugar- and gluten-free fried shrimp is "inside-out" from how coconut shrimp is classically prepared.


Black Thai Rice made with coconut milk is the perfect accompaniment to the fried shrimp and the bright and vibrant mango coulis.

Most people make coconut shrimp with the coconut coating on the outside. I thought I'd shake things up and flip that around just to experiment and try something new. I used coconut flour as the base coating in place of standard all-purpose flour. For the outer coating, after the egg, I used quinoa flakes. The result surprised me...happily! The coconut flavor absolutely came through, albeit toned down from the classic-and-a-bit-too-sweet "angel flake" version. In a word: scrumptious!

Equipment: cutting board; paring knife; dry measuring cups; fork; cast iron skillet or large sauté pan (with straight sides); (3) wide shallow bowls; rimmed sheet pan; tongs; platter; paper towels

Ingredients:

1 lb. 21/25 (jumbo) shrimp, peeled and deveined 2 cups coconut flour 4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups quinoa flakes

vegetable oil for frying


1. Pat dry the shrimp and set aside.


"When breading something, I usually season the all-purpose flour with salt (and sometimes other seasoning depending on the recipe, such as cumin and chili powder when making fish tacos for example). But the coconut flour is not as fine a powder as all-purpose flour. My concern is that some shrimp would end up not at all seasoned while others would be quite salty because the salt would not distribute evenly in the coconut flour. The solution: season with salt before service (see below)."


2. Add the coconut flour to a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. Then beat the eggs with a fork in a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. Put the quinoa flakes in a wide, shallow bowl and set aside. From left to right, line up the coconut flour, egg mixture, and quinoa flakes, respectively.

Breading is very procedural. It can be a messy proposition if you don’t follow the ILOC way: wet hand, dry hand!

3. Dredge one shrimp in the coconut flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then directly into the quinoa flakes. With a dry hand, toss well to coat and set aside. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.

Breading Is As Easy As 1-2-3

You need three bowls: one shallow bowl with the coconut flour, a second shallow bowl with eggs, and a third shallow bowl with quinoa flakes. Moving from left to right is key, and so is keeping one hand dry and one hand wet. That is, flour the food with your left hand (dry), but dip it in egg with your right hand (wet). Move the food from the egg, shaking off excess, to the quinoa flakes using your wet, right hand. Dredge the food in the quinoa flakes with your dry, left hand and move it to a pan or plate. Never put your dry hand in the eggs, or your wet hand in the flour or flakes.

4. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet or large sauté pan over medium-high heat until the surface begins to shimmer. To test if the oil is hot, carefully lower the tip of one shrimp into the oil. If the shrimp sizzles and begins to brown, the oil is ready. If nothing happens, the oil is not yet hot, so remove the shrimp immediately.


5. Depending on the size of your pan, fry 6-8 shrimp at a time in 3 or 4 batches. Fry on one side for 2 minutes, or until the bottom and edges are golden brown. Turn each shrimp carefully with tongs in the order in which they entered the pan, and fry for another 1-2 minutes, or until the shrimp is fully cooked.


6. Remove the shrimp to a large platter or cutting board lined with paper towels to drain the fat and season generously with kosher or sea salt. The shrimp can be warmed in a 400°F oven in a single layer on a sheet pan for 2 minutes prior to service. Serve with dipping sauces, such as mango coulis, lemon mayonnaise, or orange-ginger sauce (½ cup orange marmalade plus 2 tablespoons orange juice warmed in a small saucepan with 1 teaspoon chopped ginger).


Makes 4 servings.


Season with Salt Before Service

Sally sells sea shells by the.... back to the seasoning with the salt before service! When the shrimp come out of the oil to drain on paper towels, a generous sprinkling of kosher or sea salt--which thankfully lack the caking additives and whitening agents of common table salt--will season them perfectly. Grab a pinch of salt and hold your hand high over the shrimp as you gently release the granules from your moving fingers as you sway your hand back and forth...just like the pros! You'll see that the salt will land just where it should and your food will taste just right!


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