Whenever I travel, I keep a list of food ideas I chance upon in notes on my phone. The list doesn’t always make sense and one currently reads “Pineapple butter sauce almond granita coconut prawns squid green beans olive salad poached egg!” Now make sense of that! But it’s always fun to try making something you ate and loved at a restaurant, especially if it turns out well, and isn’t difficult at all!
I had tasted these delicious prawns fried with a crunchy coconut crust at Tao, a leading Asian cuisine and nightlife destination, on one of my trips to New York City. Inspired, I decided to try them with some frozen prawns at The Pepper Cook Studio. While I have no clue how Tao makes theirs, I’m really not a recipe person at all! I just prefer playing with ingredients!
I marinated the prawns in pineapple juice (and drank the other half of the tetra pack!), turmeric, chilies, garlic, cumin, fresh coriander, and lemongrass.
While I used package juice, if you use fresh pineapple juice, don’t marinate the prawns for more than 20 minutes. Fresh orange juice contains bromelain which breaks down proteins in seafood and meat. You will end up with mushy prawns! Either way, the prawns don’t need a long marination.
Once they are ready, they just need to be dipped in egg and rolled in desiccated coconut and breadcrumbs, and then quickly shallow fried. This hardly takes 2 minutes a side. (See the video below from YouTube.)
The prawns turned out crunchy and delicious, and make for an impressive tropical starter!
Since my original experiment, I have added 2 tablespoons of rice flour to give a crisper finish.
Either way, they tasted great, and I’m happy to be back in my experimentation groove! Why not try and make them today?
Spicy Fried Coconut Prawns
- 12 large prawns
- 100ml pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (optional)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped or pounded
- 1 2-3” piece lemon grass root, pounded
- 3 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped – divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 50g desiccated coconut
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup breadcrumb
- 2 tablespoons rice powder (optional)
- 1 cup oil
- Lime or lemon wedges (optional)
- Combine pineapple juice, lemon juice if using, turmeric, red chili powder, garlic, lemongrass root, salt, and 2 tablespoons of fresh coriander in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then add the prawns. Marinate the prawns for a maximum of half an hour.
- Beat two eggs.
- Mix coconut and remaining one tablespoon coriander in a separate shallow dish.
- Add ½ teaspoon salt to breadcrumb in a plate or shallow dish. Mix in the rice powder, if using, for extra crispiness.
- Dip each prawn into the beaten eggs, then into the coconut mixture and finally into the breadcrumbs. At this point, if you want to you can refrigerate the prawns until ready to fry.
- Heat the oil in a shallow frying pan and fry the coated prawns for about 2 minutes on each side until light brown. Lift out and drain on a kitchen paper.
- Serve hot with lime.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 minutes
Critical Ingredients: Pineapple juice gives the flavor to the prawns, although a citrus juice would work as well. If you don’t have lemongrass the spices will give enough flavor. Rice powder is really optional. If you use fresh coconut, the prawns may not be as crispy.