Coconut prawns are the business! Coconut and lime go so well together. Coupled with prawns they taste even better. And dipped in a tropical sauce there are no words to describe the sensation other than FAB-U-LOUS..!
I came across something similar on our recent trip to Puerto Rico and it was everything you would want in Caribbean food…. sweet, tangy, savoury and citrusy (one of my favourite new words!). So of course I knew I had to reinvent something similar and gluten-free too.
The worst type of prawns in my eyes is anything with a heavy floury batter and deep-fried. Sorry but deep-fried scampi just doesn’t cut it for me! What I love about this recipe is that it is very light and you feel you are eating something sumptuous and special yet it is so easy to prepare. You can bake it in the oven or lightly pan fry it in your favourite healthy oil. You can eat them on their own with a dash of lime juice but my family love it with freshly made tropical dip… so easy you can make it in your sleep….
The prawns must be raw as it makes for a succulent finished dish and not dried up and chewy. Even when you buy the cooked fresh prawns you know they have added a bucket load of salt. Pre-cooked prawns are for eating in a salad or adding it to a sauce at the last-minute. Raw prawns can be marinated several hours in advance and absorb the flavours when cooking. So wherever possible please buy them uncooked and I promise you’ll get used to peeling them as it’s so much easier when they haven’t been cooked (or just get your kids to do it like I do!).
Tiger shrimp is grey when uncooked and turns pink when cooked and the Maine shrimps are pink in colour when raw and pinky white when cooked. I like to de-vein my prawns especially when cooking them for friends as, although edible, they make the prawn taste gritty.
So for this recipe allow plenty of time to peel and de-vein your prawns. I leave the small tail on as it makes for a really attractive plate of food and makes it easier to hold a dip into the sauce, but you can also remove this as it can actually be quicker to peel the prawns when the entire prawn is peeled.
Then you place your ingredients (apart from the peeled prawns) in 3 small bowls. In the first bowl you place your unsweetened desiccated coconut and to this add the grated rind from 1 lime and mix through. Add ½ teaspoon of paprika and mix again. In a second bowl add the gluten-free buckwheat flour and into the third bowl add 2 beaten eggs.
If you want the dish to taste extra citrusy then squeeze some lime juice over the prawns and leave to marinate for 30 minutes. Then take your prawn and dip it first in the flour, then in the beaten egg and finally in the coconut mixture. Set aside on a plate until completed and ready to be cooked. Every few prawns wash your hands … as it does get wet and sticky if you don’t.
Make your delicious fresh tropical fruit dipping sauce. I love the combination of mango and pineapple together as they really complement each other especially with a hint of red chilli, however, you can use one or the other if you wish. First peel the mango. My teenage daughter loves mangoes. She will choose a mango over anything sweet. So I was so happy when she showed me the short cut way of peeling a mango to get the most flesh out of it without any waste. I can’t believe I’ve been doing it the wrong way all these years! You first make a small slit with a knife on the skin to get the peeling started. Then place it against a tall cup with the mango inside the cup and scrape off the skin and repeat until the whole mango is peeled. It’s that easy!
And there you can see that there is barely any mango flesh sticking to the skin!
Chop up your mango, pineapple and add to your blender or nutribullet. Add half a diced red chilli, fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice to taste. You can make this sauce chunky and salsa-like but I prefer it smooth as it’s delicious for dipping.
So it’s time to decide how you want to cook your prawns…. baked, grilled or fried. I prefer to fry mine as you have more control over their cooking and how golden or crispy you want them. If you are baking them heat the oil on a baking tray and then add your prawns. Turn every 3 minutes in the oven until golden.
Grilling of course is the healthiest option but because there is no added oil it compromises on the taste. If shallow frying then heat your oil for a few minutes and lightly fry the prawns for 3-4 minutes on each side.
You know they are cooked when they turn pink at the ends and white on the inside.
You don’t have to use much oil to cook them. Also if you don’t want to dip the prawns in flour and egg you can still add the coconut mixture to a bowl of prawns and lightly bake them so they are lighter in texture and flavour yet still with a delicious coconut and lime flavour.
Serve with a grilled salad and delicious tropical dipping sauce!
- 1 kilo/ 2.2 lb uncooked prawns
- 150g/1¾ cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 2 limes
- 85g/1 cup gluten free buckwheat flour
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 eggs
- olive or rapeseed oil for cooking
- 2 thick slices of fresh pineapple
- 2 medium sized mangoes
- juice from 1 lime
- 1 red chilli, diced
- 1 handful fresh chopped coriander/cilantro
- Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F if baking your prawns.
- Peel and devein your prawns leaving on the tail. Set aside.
- Thinly grate the rind of the limes. Leave the rest of the lime for garnish.
- In 3 small separate bowls prepare the following: in one place the flour, in the other the beaten egg and in the last one mix the coconut, lime zest and paprika together.
- Dip the prawns first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the coconut mixture. Place in a dish until ready to cook.
- You can make a chunky salsa by dicing the mango and pineapple and mixing with the rest of the ingredients. I like to place mine in the blender for a smooth dipping sauce as this makes it more of a dip to coat your prawns when eating.
- You can either bake, grill or shallow fry in healthy oil. If baking then heat the oil in your baking tray before adding the prawns and turn every 3 minutes until cooked. These should take 15 minutes. For best results shallow fry in a healthy oil and drain on kitchen paper. By shallow frying it enables you to control how crispy you would like the prawns. Turn every 3 minutes until pink and cooked through.
- Serve with a green salad and an accompaniment of your choice.
- Now dip and enjoy!
- If you don't want to add the egg and flour you can mix your prawns just in the coconut mixture. They will be thinly coated in the coconut and less crispy but equally as delicious!
- Wash your hands every few prawns as they tend to become sticky.
- I usually double the prawns as there's never enough in our house!