Coconut shrimp is shrimp that is battered or breaded with coconut, and then either deep fried or baked in the oven. The coconut in the coating gives the shrimp a slightly sweet and exotic flavor, so even family members who normally turn up their noses at shrimp might be tempted to try the dish. To build a full meal around your coconut shrimp, add a variety of dips, side dishes and maybe even an island-inspired dessert to round out the menu.
Whether you opt for sweet or savory dips, they should continue the tropical flavor theme. You might combine finely diced mango with lemon, for example, or serve a lime and chili sauce. Pineapple salsa is another option that beautifully complements the flavor of coconut shrimp. Alternatively you might try an Asian-style dip, such as soy sauce mixed with ginger and garlic, or buy bottled sauces at the supermarket or an Asian market. If you're less worried about authenticity, buttermilk dressing makes a creamy dip that works well with the shrimp.
A Few Side Dishes
The breading or batter makes coconut shrimp surprisingly filling, especially if they're fried, so stay away from heavy or creamy side dishes. Instead pair coconut shrimp with a light side dish, such as a fresh green salad with Caesar dressing, grilled vegetables or veggie kabobs dusted with dried seasoning mix. Grill pineapple slices for garnish, but save some for dessert, served plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
If you still feel you need a dessert after all that coconut shrimp, serve up a key lime pie. Key lime pie complements the citrus, tropical flavors of the rest of the meal. If you don't have time to bake, look for key lime pie in the freezer section at the grocery store. Just thaw and slice for a sweet ending to a sweet-hot meal. Sherbet topped with fresh berries or tropical fruit also makes a refreshing finish to the meal.
Don't Forget Drinks
Tropical drinks -- pina coladas, mojitos and daiquiris -- are natural choices for the adults in the group. For the kids, serve tropical treats without the alcohol. Make fruit smoothies and skewer orange slices and cherries on a swizzle stick for garnish. Add a colorful paper cocktail umbrella for fun. For a non-alcoholic beverage, give iced tea a shot of fruit flavoring, such as peach or mango syrup, and serve it over ice.