- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Don’t you love those succulent shrimp with the crunchy, golden coconut coating? You know, the ones served at all the big chain restaurants.

Did you know that a serving of four will set you back almost 600 calories and more than 18 grams of fat? That’s a third of most people’s recommended daily fat and calorie intake.

No surprise, the main culprit in this dietary disaster is the deep fat fryer.

Coconut shrimp with dipping sauce from the March issue of Light & Tasty magazine employs a simple oven-frying technique to rescue this dish from its oil-soaked origins. A serving of 10 shrimp with sauce has just 324 calories and 11 grams of fat.

On top of a flavor-boosting marinade, the secret to this recipe is a classic breading technique that uses flour, eggs, and Japanese bread crumbs blended with shredded coconut. The shrimp are then baked instead of deep-fried, but they still get that nice crunch.

To toast shredded coconut, spread it on a baking sheet and place it in an oven preheated to 350 F for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned.

Shrimp themselves are a healthy protein choice. A 3-ounce serving of uncooked shrimp just has about 90 calories and 1.5 grams of fat, very little of it saturated. Shrimp also provide iron, potassium, selenium, vitamin E and vitamin D. They even contain some omega-3 (heart-healthy) fat.

It’s true that shrimp are high in cholesterol, but that’s not a great concern, says D. Milton Stokes, a nutrition counselor in southern Connecticut and spokesman for the American Dietetics Association. “Eating dietary cholesterol doesn’t raise blood cholesterol as much as other constituents of the diet. Instead, consumers should watch out for trans fat and saturated fat; both are much more vicious than dietary cholesterol alone.”

Coconut shrimp with dipping sauce

From start to finish, this recipe, adapted from the March issue of Light & Tasty, takes 1½ hours.

1 14-ounce can light coconut milk, divided

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

11/4 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 egg whites

3/4 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs

3/4 cup flaked coconut, lightly toasted

1/3 cup reduced-sugar apricot preserves

1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray

In a small bowl, place 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk; cover and refrigerate. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine remaining coconut milk, jalapeno, cilantro, and shrimp. Seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place flour in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg whites. In a third bowl, combine bread crumbs and coconut. Drain shrimp and discard marinade. Dip shrimp in flour and egg whites, then roll in crumb mixture.

Place shrimp on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, for dipping sauce, combine preserves and mustard with the reserved coconut milk. Serve with shrimp. Makes 5 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 324 calories, 23g protein, 11g total fat (8 g saturated), 30g carbohydrates, 168 mg cholesterol, 316 mg sodium, 1g fiber.

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