Coconut shrimp lollypops
Apricot-ginger dipping sauce
¾ cup of apricot jam
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds discarded, minced
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar or freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Place all dipping sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor. Purée. Reserve.
Coconut shrimp lollypops
1 coconut (first-timers should buy a spare coconut)
1/2 cup beer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
12 jumbo shrimp (21-26 count; that’s 21 to 26 to a pound) shelled and deveined
3-5 cups peanut oil, or vegetable oil, for frying
1 wedge of watermelon (for presentation)
6-inch bambook skewers (one per)
With the coconut and a medium-size bowl in hand, go find yourself a concrete step. Break the coconut in half by banging the center along the equator of the coconut repeatedly on the edge of the step. Split the coconut over the bowl and salvage some of the water if possible. Reserve the smaller half of the coconut. Bang the larger half on the concrete to break it into smaller pieces.
Back in your kitchen, use a table knife to separate the coconut meat from the shell. Then use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the brown skin from the meat. Using the medium section of your grater shred 2 cups of coconut. Reserve in a shallow bowl.
Pour coconut water into a measuring cup and if necessary top off with beer until you have 3/4 cup of liquid. Reserve. If you are using store-bought shredded coconut (and consequently do not have any coconut water), replace mixture with 3/4 cup of beer.
In a large bowl, combine flour, coconut water/beer mixture, egg, cayenne, baking powder, and salt. Beat until it is smooth. Add a bit more flour or beer, if necessary, so that the batter has the consistency of thick pancake batter. Reserve.
Use a paper towel to pat dry the shrimp. Tightly wrap each shrimp like a pinwheel (with the tail end of the shrimp on the outside), then place one shrimp on the end of each 6-inch bamboo skewer (see diagram). Reserve in refrigerator.
Pour oil into a small, tall pot until it is 3 inches deep. Heat oil until it reaches 350°F
While oil is heating, dip each shrimp in the batter, then pat it down in the coconut shreds so that the entire “lollypop” is covered in coconut shreds. Transfer to a plate.
When oil is ready, submerge 4 shrimp at a time into the oil. Don’t worry if the skewers go into the oil. Fry for approximately 2 minutes, or until coconut is golden brown. Rotate once or twice. Transfer finished lollypops to a paper towel.
Skim any wayward coconut shreds from the oil. Adjust heat, wait until oil returns to 350°F, and continue with next batch. Stick skewers in a watermelon wedge and serve the dipping sauce in the reserved coconut half.
Yield: 12 lollypops