Crunchy coconut shrimp / prawns with a spicy Thai MANGO dipping sauce! This sauce is so scrumptious I want to pour it over everything. And really – you could! On cooked meats, seafood, as a salad dressing…..let your imagination run wild!
This is a very special recipe to me because it was created during a visit to a mango farm called Groves Grown Tropical Fruits in Queensland, Australia. I’m fortunate to have travelled fairly extensively around the world, and yet this trip is possibly the one that has affected me most profoundly as an avid foodie, a cook, and a writer.
When you are welcomed by a farmer and his family onto their farm and into their home, walk the soil and see the fruits (literally) of their hard labour, it gives you a new perspective on things.
Last week, I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Ian Groves and his family at Groves Grown Tropical Fruits farm. I expected a tour, some Q&A time, and to learn more about Australian mangos.
But within minutes of pulling up in my hire car, I knew this was not just the offical tour I was expecting when Ian said to me “Let me show you to your room.”
“My room?”, I asked, perplexed. “I have accommodation booked for me in town.”
“Oh no, you must stay here!”, he insisted. Which I gratefully accepted because I had no desire to be driving back and forth 50km on country roads.
And I knew, when I dragged my suitcase into my room and saw this, that this visit was not going to be just “a tour”.
This pretty much set the tone for the entire visit. Warm, welcoming, funny, thoughtful.
I’m sure the Groves family got sick of hearing me exclaim “I’m supposed to be “on the job”, but this feels like a holiday with friends!”.
I spent the day being toured around his extensive farm with his daughter Melanie and the obligatory farm dog, Milly, astounded by the scale, the time, care, labour, science and detail it takes to grow beautiful, plump, juicy mangoes that city folk like myself take for granted.
I was especially pleased to see that some of the mangoes were low hanging. Fantastic for shorties like myself!! 😉
I want to write so much and share so many photos but I know I’ll probably implode my site if I dribble on as much as I could. So I want to share with you one thing that I learned that I didn’t really appreciate before my visit – the mango varieties. Wow. Just wow.
Green mangoes. Red mangoes. Gold ones, giant ones. I was sent home with an extraordinary variety of mangoes, all hand marked by Ian so I wouldn’t forget. ? I’ve spent the past week making my way through the stash – eating and cooking half, and freezing the other half (note the absence of reference to giving them away!).
Each member of the Groves family has a favourite type of mango. I love ’em all, but having now tried Kensington Prides, Keitts, R2E2’s and Honey Gold mangoes, I must say I’m quite partial to Keitts! They are the red tone mangoes in the photo below with the tinge of green. Just as juicy, sweet and “meaty” as other varieties, but there is a very mild tang, almost lemony which really appeals to my palette.
I was thrilled that Sandi, Ian’s wife, let me take over the kitchen on the 2nd day so I could experiment with mango recipes!! So I created this recipe while I was there but I must admit, I couldn’t get the sauce quite right (performance anxiety!) so I worked on it once I got back to Sydney until I was happy.
I really wanted this sauce to have some depth, zing and freshness to offset the sweetness of the mango which I thought would be a great accompaniment to the sweet, crunchy shrimp / prawns.
These crunchy prawns / shrimp…so, I have to tell you, the first batch I made was just coated in coconut. But they just weren’t that crunchy! Panko is essential. As is using desiccated, rather than flaked or shredded coconut.
Many thanks to to my official taste tester for this recipe, Melanie, Ian’s daughter, for helping me make the prawns just right!!?
Oh!! In all the excitement chattering about my trip, I almost forgot! I did a little video for this recipe, along with a little peek at the beautiful Groves Grown Tropical Fruit Farm. And proof that these prawns are absolutely irresistible….you get to see DOZER taste testing!??
Regular readers will know that I don’t fry very often. It is reserved for very special occasions, for food “worth frying” for.
These are worth it. Pinky swear, promise. – Nagi x
PS By the way, these are only shallow fried. Not deep fried. Hardly counts!?
PPS I’ve been going a bit mad, experimenting with mango recipes. Did you know mangoes are a brilliant marinade??? And have you ever used mangoes in curry before? Incredible. Absolutely incredible!
- 1lb/500g whole prawns OR 12oz/350g peeled fresh prawns (Note 1)
- ¼ tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 1 egg
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup desiccated coconut (Note 2)
- Oil, for frying
- 1 cup (packed) fresh mango. roughly diced
- 2 tbsp cilantro/coriander, leaves and stems, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp red onion or eschallots, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (or substitute with light or ordinary soy sauce)
- 1 tbsp sriracha (Note 3)
- 1 tsp red chilli, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
- 2 - 3 tbsp coconut milk (adjust for desired sauce consistency)
- Mango Sauce: Place ingredients in a small food processor (or blender or use a blender stick). Whizz until smooth. Adjust salt and spice to taste. Use coconut milk to adjust the consistency.
- Peel and devein the shrimp / prawns. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Whisk egg in a small bowl. Mix panko and coconut in another bowl.
- Dip a prawn in the egg mixture then coat with panko. Repeat with remaining prawns.
- Heat oil in a skillet (Note 4) over medium high heat. Toss in a clotted lump of panko/egg to test for heat - if it sizzles right away and floats to the top, then the oil is hot enough.
- Working in batches, carefully place prawns in the hot oil. Cook for just 45 seconds (Note 5) until golden brown - start counting when you slide the first prawn in and remove the prawns from the oil in the order that you put them in.
- Remove onto a paper towel lined tray to drain.
- Serve warm with Spicy Mango Dipping Sauce!
2. Desiccated coconut is the fine shredded coconut. I prefer the finely shredded coconut to the larger flakes because you get better crunch when combined with the panko breadcrumbs!
3. You can substitute the sriracha with any hot sauce of choice BUT you will need to add a touch of sour (~1 tsp white vinegar) and 1 small garlic clove, crushed (because sriracha has vinegar and garlic in it which is part of the flavour base for this sauce).
4. Amount of oil required: You need enough all so that the prawns are almost, but not completely, submerged. You don't need so much oil that the prawns are floating because they cook so fast. The oil bubbles when the prawns are put in the oil which cooks the top of the prawns which is above the surface of the oil - you can see this in the video.
5. There are few things in life sadder than overcooked prawns, especially if you made the effort to peel them yourself! Perfectly cooked prawns will form a "C" shape and OVERCOOKED prawns curl tightly into an "O" shape. My prawns were a fairly standard size - not jumbo, not small, they were about 10cm/4" in length (peeled, but including tail) and about 1cm/ 2/5" thick. These were perfectly cooked in 45 seconds.
6. To make ahead: Allow to cool then place in a container in single layers. To reheat so they recrisp, preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Place prawns on a baking tray and bake for 3-5 minutes until they crisp up. No longer than that, otherwise they will over cook!
No nutrition for this….when food is this good, it doesn’t matter! (Also, because it’s fried, I don’t know how to calculate it accurately, sorry!)
This post is brought to you by Aussie Mangoes who arranged my visit to Groves Grown Tropical Fruits. Many thanks to Ian Groves and family for welcoming me into their home, showing me around their beautiful farm, sharing a wealth of information about growing and harvesting mangoes, letting me take over the kitchen to create this recipe, indulging me with incredible food, and officially converting me into a mango snob.❤️