Baked Coconut Shrimp

Shrimp = three dollars and touch of class. Having a nice dinner doesn't mean you gotta make it rain at the grocery store. Pick up a few shrimp (about three dollars worth), rub them down in coconut and cayenne,  then bake. It's magical.

The best part is you determine the flavor. If you don't want that heat- go easy on the cayenne. If you don't want it too sweet, mix the sweetened coconut with some unsweetened coconut. Or, you can go middle route as we did! Love that heat! Gotta make those taste buds tingle. I added extra cayenne and kept the sweetened coconut. It was a perfect balance of sweet and savory.

The only thing I did different was soak the shrimp in unsweetened coconut milk mixed with some cayenne pepper over night in the fridge.  I don't know if this made a major difference but I wanted to ensure that the coconut was an overall flavor- not just the flakes. Infuse that heat!

My favorite thing about this recipe is that the shrimp is baked. Baked! Not fried! The texture is awesome and crispy without all the oil! It bakes crazy quick too. I could chow down with a clear conscious and an easy to clean kitchen.

This can be served as appetizers or a meal. I went with a tropical theme. There was some left over rice so I made my usual fried rice (which doesn't really involve measurements) and added chunks of pineapple, mango, and papaya. You can a convenient package of this fruit all nice and fresh at Trade Joe's. It made a tasty farewell to summer meal.

Baked Coconut Shrimp

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups flaked sweetened coconut (or half unsweetened)
3 egg whites, beaten until foamy

*optional: soak in unsweetened coconut milk mixed with cayenne pepper the night before

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Rinse and dry shrimp with paper towels.

Mix cornstarch, salt, and cayenne pepper in a shallow bow; pour coconut flakes in a separate shallow bowl. Working with one shrimp at a time, dredge it in the cornstarch mixture, then dip it in the egg white, and roll it in the coconut, making sure to coat the shrimp well. Place on the prepared baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining shrimp.

Bake the shrimp until they are bright pink on the outside and the meat is no longer transparent in the center and the coconut is browned, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway through.