Sunday, February 14, 2010
Date Night Appetizer - Coconut Crusted Shrimp with Pink Pepper Honey
I have a love/hate relationship with appetizers. The IDEA of them - the endless possibilities, the whole 'canapes with cocktails' at 6 concept, is irressistable to me. But the reality of them - having to whip something together before whipping up the main course leaves me cold. I mess up my kitchen before I've even started the real cooking. I panic about how to time everything out. And I look nothing like one of those fifties housewives, happily doling out blinis with caviar. In fact, I look more like a grizzly bear.
And then I discovered something that reignited my passion. I learned that I can make them ahead of time. Not the cooking of course, just the prepping so that I can stash them in the fridge until go time. I am constantly shocked at how well this works - case in point - even this shrimp recipe. You can rinse, dry, and coat them in the morning, cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in the fridge right on their baking sheet. All you do before baking is drizzle them with oil and sprinkle with salt. And I don't even have to set down my cocktail to do that.
Finally, the pink pepper honey sauce is a nice change from the apricot or honey mustard type sauces usually served with this. I made it after having a cheese plate at Mario Batali's Otto that includes honey and fresh cracked pepper. SO good. But of course you can use whatever sauce you like.
Coconut Crusted Shrimp with Pink Pepper Honey
* I apologize for the terrible picture. These are much prettier in person and the sauce has a deep, hypnotic reddish pink, not the house of horrors bayou mud color above.
10 peeled and devained shrimp, tails on
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs beaten combined with small splash milk
1 cup panko crumbs combined with 1/2 cup (more if you want) shredded raw coconut
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, for drizzling shrimp
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt, for sprinkling shrimp
If making right away, put your oven on 375.
Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a baking rack (cooling rack for cookies) over the baking sheet and spray liberally with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Rinse your shrimp under cold water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Prepare your breading stations - your flour in a flat wide dish, your eggs and milk whisked together and ready in one bowl and your panko/coconut mixture in another.
Begin breading. One by one, lightly dredge the shrimp in the flour lightly coating all sides. Give a little shake to remove excess, then dip coating all sides briefly in the egg mixture. Shake lightly and move to the breading, pressing both and all sides in a couple of times to get as much to stick as possible. Place on your prepared baking sheet fitted with the sprayed rack. Repeat with the rest of the shrimp, spacing them evenly apart on the sheet. I like to pile a little extra panko/coconut on top of each shrimp on the tray afterwards, knowing the plastic wrap is going to knock some off.
If making ahead, cover the tray with a large sheet of plastic wrap lengthwise, then place two sheets of aluminum foil, overlapping them along the short sides, gently but firmly crimping around the edges of the baking sheet so the shrimp aren't exposed to air while in the fridge. Place the sheet flat on a shelf in the fridge until you're ready to bake, removing them 20 minutes beforehand so they don't go in the oven ice cold.
Preheat the oven to 375. Remove the shrimp from the fridge, uncover and discard the plastic wrap and foil, then drizzle the shrimp with the oil (do this carefully so that you cover the shrimp instead of the sheet.) Sprinkle each shrimp with salt, and
bake for 15-18 minutes, lowering the heat slightly if the coconut gets too dark too quickly, just until the tails turn bright pink and the shrimp are cooked through with not a hint of translucence to them.
Pink Pepper Honey Dipping Sauce:
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Crush the pink and black peppercorns in a ziploc with a mallet or heavy pan. Add the paprika in and shake to combine. Stir the mixture into the honey and cover until you're ready to serve. Just before serving, warm the honey briefly in the microwave just to make it more 'dipable.'