These golden coconut prawns make for the ultimate starter when entertaining. Served with a punchy honey-chilli sauce, they’re a real crowd-pleaser.
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COOK. STORE. SAVE.
Clever storage: Got some of the honey-chilli dipping sauce left over from this recipe for coconut prawns? Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and use it as a stir-fry sauce or for dipping prawn spring rolls or Chinese-style dumplings.
Coconut prawns are a sweet and salty taste of the tropics. The origin of coconut prawns is unknown, but coconut and prawns are a match made in heaven, and they’re particularly popular in Hawaii, where you can find them served in restaurants and food trucks. Crispy crumbed coconut prawns are perfect as dinner party nibbles, or for an afternoon get-together during those balmy summers. To share with friends, present the prawns on a platter with a container of toothpicks for easy skewering. In addition to the honey-chilli sauce, you could offer an elevated saffron tartare sauce or something zesty like this lemon and herb dressing. At an adult gathering, you might also want to accompany a coconut prawn platter with a tiki-style cocktail, such as a pina colada or a mojito.
This recipe uses green (uncooked) prawns. Choose one of the larger varieties, either king, tiger or banana prawns. To prepare them for coating with coconut and breadcrumbs, rinse the unshelled prawns under cold water. Hold each prawn firmly and twist off the head, then use your thumb to peel away the legs and shell from the underside of the prawn. (Leave the tail intact for this recipe.) To devein, use a small sharp knife to cut a slit in the back of each prawn to expose the vein. Remove and discard. (See how to peel prawns for a video and cheat sheet of this process.)
We’ve got a couple of handy hints for getting this recipe right. To start, once you’ve peeled the prawns, pat them dry with a paper towel. This helps the crumbs stick to the prawns to maximise crunch and flavour. Once you’ve coated the prawns with the coconut mixture, you must give them at least 30 minutes in the fridge to ensure the coating is set before frying. Equally important is ensuring you don’t crowd the pan when cooking: if you do, they will take much longer to cook through and end up being soggy or oily. Drain the prawns on a plate lined with a paper towel or on a baking rack. Unless you’re a master multitasker, it’s best to keep your full attention on the frying, both for safety and the best quality results. While the prawns drain, prepare the sauce.
Piled on a platter with the dipping sauce on the side, the prawns with coconut make great finger food. As an entree, you could serve them almost like a classic prawn cocktail. Drizzle with a little of the dipping sauce before serving. For a summer lunch, serve coconut prawns as the main course. Add steamed rice and a tropical salad – one with mangoes is perfect – to make this a complete meal. A little of the honey-chilli dipping sauce is great with the rice, too.
Whether it’s for simple dinners or fancy feasts, check out our collection of easy prawn recipes.