Crispy Coconut Spot Prawns & Cucumber Salad

Coconut Spot Prawns

Succulent, slightly exotic and absolutely fantastic with either of the dips. When I make them they are gobbled up pretty fast!  At other times of the year when Spot Prawns are unavailable use another type of prawn.  Living on the Westcoast of Canada in Vancouver, we are so lucky to have access to a fish shop that sells only locally caught sustainable fish and seafood.  We have a spot prawn festival every year when they are in season.

Makes 8 Servings

4 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup unbleached flour
¾ cup lager beer
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne or to taste
1 lg. egg
6 cups canola oil (for frying shrimp)
48 Spot prawns (1 ½ lbs.), or medium shrimp,
peeled, leaving tail and first segment of shell intact, deveined if necessary

Coarsely chop coconut and transfer half to a shallow plate.

Whisk together flour, beer, baking soda, salt, cayenne and egg in a small bowl until smooth.

Heat oil in a 4 – 6 quart deep heavy pot over moderately high heat until it registers 350F on a thermometer. I like to use a electric frying pan for deep frying as it has a temperature control making things a lot easier. While the oil is heating, coat prawns. Hold 1 prawn by the tail and dip into the batter, letting excess drip off, then dredge in coconut, coating completely and pressing gently to help it adhere.

Transfer to a plate and coat remaining prawns in same manner, adding remaining coconut to bowl as needed.

Fry prawns in oil in batches of 8 or so, making sure not to crowd the pan, until golden, about 1 minute or so. Transfer with a “spider” or slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and season lightly with salt. Keep warm in a 200 F oven while frying the remaining prawns. Skim any coconut from the oil and return oil to 350 F between batches. Serve hot with either of the dips or you could do both.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

½ cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ sweet red bell peppers, seeded & any membrane removed, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 Tbsp. sambal oelek, you can adjust to taste, perhaps 1 Tbsp. to start with.
¼ cup fish sauce
4-5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes or until reduced by ¼ and just beginning to thicken. Let cool.

Place the red pepper, garlic and sambal oelek in a food processor of blender. Add sugar syrup and puree. Add fish sauce, lime juice and blend until combined. Taste for seasoning adding more lime juice, fish sauce or sambal oelek to taste. Makes about 1 ½ cups. Freezes really well.

Plum Dipping Sauce – I came up with this one day when I had fresh plums and needed a dipping sauce.

¾ lb. plums
2 Tbsp. golden sugar
1-2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
½ stalk lemongrass, trimmed & chopped fine
1 star anise
1 ½ tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, chopped
Chili to taste (opt.)
Salt to taste

Halve the plums, remove pit and chop coarsely. Place all ingredients, except vinegar in a medium sized pot; simmer, covered until plums break down, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar, simmer uncovered stirring frequently until sauce is thickened to a runny jam like consistency.


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