With just a few simple ingredients like coconut milk, lime juice & sriracha, these spicy coconut shrimp are quick-marinated and then cooked to perfection! They are great on a salad, in tacos or skewered and thrown on the grill.
Tips for Buying Shrimp
Fresh or Frozen?
I prefer to buy frozen, deveined/de-shelled shrimp and thaw them by running them under cold water. Definitely don’t thaw shrimp in warm water or in the microwave as that can result in a loss of flavor.
Frozen shrimp is obviously the shrimp in the bags in the freezer section at the grocery store. These shrimp were likely thrown onto ice immediately after they were caught, therefore keeping the fresh, shrimp-y flavor when they are first thawed.
When there’s “fresh” shrimp at the fish counter, it’s likely that these shrimp go under the same freezing process but are then thawed at the fish counter and won’t taste as fresh.
If you’re planning on grilling these (which is an excellent idea!) you can definitely keep the tails on the shrimp as it will keep them a bit sturdy, and the tail gives the shrimp some flavor while it cooks.
History of Coconut Shrimp
The term “coconut shrimp” first appeared in the post- WWII tiki craze. Although these are a bit different because they aren’t crispy and crunchy (although I do have an amazing recipe for crispy shrimp- check it out here!), I still want to take a moment to pay homage to the origination of the flavors I played around with in this recipe!
During the 1940’s-1960’s, “tiki culture” permeated the United States in almost every space. Think tiki torches, Mai Tai’s, etc. Coconut shrimp emerged during this period and now are common on many U.S. menus.
Making the spicy coconut shrimp Marinade
One of the best things about this recipe is how simple the ingredients are! The marinade for these spicy coconut shrimp is made up of:
Coconut Milk- I prefer to get full-fat coconut milk as I think it has more flavor. I buy it in the cans and typically look for one without extra ingredients such as gums or fillers, but you can also buy different types and see which brand you prefer, as there is typically quite a bit of variation in flavor/texture between the brands. The coconut milk is the base of the marinade and also provides the coconut flavor!
Lime- the acid in this marinade is of course lime juice! The recipe calls for 1 lime, but if you only have a tiny lime or your lime doesn’t produce much juice, you can always increase it to 2 limes.
Sriracha- here comes the “spicy” part of the recipe! It actually doesn’t have that much heat, but if you want to kick it up a notch, just add a couple more tbsp of sriracha to the marinade.
Fish Sauce– the last ingredient in the marinade is fish sauce. Fish sauce is basically “umami” in a bottle. It is salty and savory and used in many Asian recipes. It gives a great depth of flavor to this recipe and also gives it a nice saltiness. Just be careful when adding extra, as it definitely has a very salty taste.
Because of the acid in this recipe, I recommend only marinating the shrimp for 30 minutes. Raw shrimp cook extremely quickly and so easily that even just marinating in an acidic marinade for more than 30 minutes can result in the shrimp cooking. That’s how you get ceviche- which is delicious, but not what we’re going for here!
how to cook the spicy coconut shrimp
If you have access to a grill, I definitely recommend grilling these up as the char gives them an incredible flavor! If not, simply sear them in a cast-iron or nonstick pan for 2 minutes per side.
My favorite way to eat this is with a side of cilantro lime rice & a salad!
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Spicy Coconut Shrimp
- 1 lb raw shrimp
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 lime
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- Combine all ingredients for marinade in a bowl and whisk together well.
- Marinate shrimp for 30 minutes.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet or nonstick skillet with 2 tbsp of oil and cook the shrimp for 2 minutes per side. Or place shrimp on skewers and grill.