Why, yes, I did just say that I made you gluten free Eggless Coconut Shrimp! And they’re just as crispy-crunchy-addictive as they should be.
I’m not usually one for recipes that use specialty flours or fiddly bits, but there are a few dishes where I’m happy to make an exception, because these golden-hued bites of seafood-y goodness are totally worth the effort.
Just like a traditional recipe, these Eggless Coconut Shrimp get their deliciously crispy coating using a three stage breading process. That sounds finicky, but it’s actually pretty simple. You need to set up your three dipping stations ahead of time, but after that, it’s easy once you get going.
First off, the tail-on shrimp get a dusting of tapioca starch (often called tapioca flour), shaking off the excess. Then they get dipped in a coconut milk bath, just long enough that you’ll see a faint bubble or two as the milk comes into contact with the starch. Again, you want to let any excess liquid drip off. Then, lastly, the dusted and dipped shrimp get a gentle roll in a lightly seasoned breading mixture that’s about one third cassava flour and two thirds unsweetened shredded coconut.
You’ll keep repeating this dust, dip and dredge process until all of the shrimp have been gussied up in their starchy breading tuxes. At this point, you can either get ready to fire up the frying oil right away, or you can let the breaded shrimp hang out in the fridge for a while longer until you’re ready to go.
Either way, I like to get the pineapple ginger dipping sauce ready while they’re resting beforehand, because once you break out the hot oil, you won’t have a spare second to make a dipping sauce.
The sauce for these Eggless Coconut Shrimp is super simple. I wanted it to be a nod to sweet and sour without all the processed ingredients, while also having a hit of heat that would cut the natural sugars from the pineapple and coconut.
So, you’ll simmer down some fresh or frozen pineapple chunks with a little water, honey, lime juice and ground ginger. I like to add a splash of coconut aminos at the end for a bit of umami that helps cut the sweetness further, but you can skip that if you like.
Once the simmered fruity mixture thickens into an almost syrupy liquid that looks almost a little too thick, you’ll smoosh it all up with an immersion blender and it will magically be the perfect dipping sauce consistency. I love it when things look wrong but turn out as perfect little kitchen surprises!
When it comes to frying up the Eggless Coconut Shrimp, you can use a stand alone deep fat fryer, but they’re not totally necessary. You’ll need a good frying or candy thermometer to monitor the heat of the frying oil, because you don’t want it to drop lower than 375 F / 190 C.
You’ll also want to cook as many of the shrimp at a time as you can, ensuring there’s enough oil in your skillet or dutch oven to cover the shrimp completely in oil, so that you don’t have to make too many batches to get them all cooked up. I recommend choosing something that has high sides like a dutch oven, because the oil will bubble and froth up as you add shrimp, as well as rise higher the more shrimp you add to the pan.
(A quick but important note: do not be tempted to bake these. I’ve tested that out and the end result was limp and soggy on the outside, not to mention gummy on the inside. You have been warned!)
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp / 45 g tapioca starch
- ¾ cup / 180 ml full fat coconut milk
- ½ packed cup / 80 g cassava flour
- 1 cup / 75 g shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 tsp / 5 g fine sea salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 lb / 454 peeled deveined tail on shrimp (about 31-40 / lb)
- 1 cup / 150 g fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
- ¼ cup / 60 ml water
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml lime juice
- 2 tbsp / 30 honey
- 2 tsp / 6 g ground ginger
- 1 tsp / 5 ml coconut aminos
- PREP: Put the tapioca starch into a ramekin and pour the coconut milk into a second ramekin or bowl that is deep enough to dip the shrimp into easily. Add the cassava flour, unsweetened coconut, sea salt and garlic powder to a third bowl and stir together until evenly blended.
- BREAD: Take a shrimp by the tail and dip it to coat lightly in the tapioca starch, shaking off any excess. Dip the coated shrimp into the coconut milk evenly, then gently let the excess liquid drip off. Place the shrimp into the breading mixture, covering it evenly and pressing lightly to stick. Transfer the breaded shrimp to a large plate or baking tray. Repeat with all of the shrimp until they are breaded, then pop the plate or baking tray into the fridge to chill.
- SIMMER: Add all of the dipping sauce ingredients to a small saucepan on the stove over low medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened and combined into a syrupy liquid, about 8 - 10 minutes. It will look almost too thick, but that will change once it's blended!
- BLEND: Transfer the syrupy sauce mixture to a high sided jar or blending container and blend until smooth using an immersion blender. Save the dipping sauce for later.
- FRY: Add enough oil of your choice to a heavy bottomed dutch oven with high sides to almost completely cover the shrimp - choose something that has enough room and high enough sides that the oil won't overflow as it foams up when frying. Heat the oil to 375 F / 190 C and use a thermometer to make sure the oil temperature stays consistent. Working in batches as necessary, add the shrimp to the hot oil and cook, turning at least once, so that both sides are golden brown.
- SERVE: Transfer the cooked shrimp to a paper towel lined plate and repeat until all of the shrimp have been fried. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve with the dipping sauce on the side.
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