Coconut-ginger shrimp offers a taste of the tropics

This time of year I start to get antsy for the temperature to climb. On the chilliest days I cruise around the Web planning tropical vacations. Dressed in layers with a blanket over my lap I dream about hopping on a plane bound for cloudless beaches. I’m not picky, just a peaceful spot nearer to the equator than my living room. Sadly a sun-drenched getaway is in the cards for me this winter. Luckily I have alternate method of visiting the tropics: Baked Coconut Shrimp.

I came across this recipe more than a decade ago while flipping through an issue of Cooking Light Magazine. The simple list of ingredients caught my eye. Over the years I prepared their version of Coconut Shrimp for appetizer parties. As much as I liked the flavor, the ingredients didn’t seem to work quite right. My biggest complaint was the sticky mess the recipe created. Sweetened coconut shreds are sticky, and when they begin to mix with the egg whites it clumps together but doesn’t stick to the shrimp very well.

This recipe was on the menu of last fall’s cooking classes. While teaching each class I experimented with a few tweaks and substitutions. All the versions were delicious, but now I have a recipe that comes together more quickly and with far less mess.

In the days before beginning my weight loss journey, I would often order fried coconut shrimp from one of the various chain restaurants we frequented. Just for fun I compared my updated recipe to one that makes a copycat of the battered and fried coconut shrimp on the menu at a popular steakhouse chain. The copycat recipe had nearly twice the calories, more than double the Weight Watchers PointsPlus, and 4 times the sodium and carbohydrates!

Enjoy this Coconut-Ginger Shrimp as an appetizer or add a few fruit and vegetables side dishes to turn it into a meal. I think it pairs extremely well with pineapple. Recently I came across a recipe for Pineapple Slaw with Ginger Lime Dressing. Next time I serve Baked Coconut-Ginger Shrimp it will be with this salad on the side. I may also turn up the heat and sprinkle some sand on the floor, for the full tropical effect.

Baked Coconut-Ginger Shrimp

Serve this sweet and toasty baked coconut shrimp as tempting appetizer or a special occasion entrée. This is a great recipe to involve your guests in the cooking process. Moderately adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, April 2002

Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cook Time: 15 minutes; Yield: 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of shrimp (31-40 per pound or bigger) uncooked or cooked, peeled with tails on
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • Optional: lime – to squeeze over finished shrimp

Method

Tip: You can prepare this recipe with raw or cooked shrimp. If using frozen shrimp make sure it is completely defrosted before beginning.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

2. In a small dish combine cornstarch, salt, chili powder, and ginger. Place coconut in a shallow dish.

3. In a small bowl whisk egg whites into a thick frothy foam.

4. Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel then toss shrimp in the cornstarch mixture.

5. One at a time dip each shrimp into the egg whites then coat with shredded coconut, pat gently to help the coconut stick.

6. Assemble the coated shrimp on the prepared baking sheet. When the pan is full but not crowded bake the coconut shrimp in the preheated oven. Cook for about 15 minutes. Finished shrimp should be fully pink, smell sweet and toasty, and be golden in color. Serve warm.

7. If desired, squeeze half a lime over the cooked shrimp before serving.

Approximate Nutrition Per Serving:calories 289, fat 16 g., carbs 15 g., fiber 3 g., protein 22 g., PP = 8

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