Coconut Shrimp Tacos with Roasted Pineapple Salsa

During Lent, you are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays. But you know what I had in my refrigerator last Friday?

Leftover beef patties from when I made cheeseburgers with paprika, smoked mozzarella, and spicy aioli (which were so good that they might have to make an appearance on the blog)...Nilaga, a Filipino soup made with beef shank and vegetables...

Beef. Meat.

I needed to come up with a meat-free dish, and I needed to figure something out soon. (It was 11:30 in the morning, I hadn't eaten anything yet, and I was hungry.) I looked in my freezer to see what I had and found a package of shrimp. Perfect. My pantry was also stocked with plenty of tortillas after I made quesadillas earlier this week. (That recipe would actually make a great no-meat solution as well!) After grabbing a few more items, I had everything that I needed to make lunch: Coconut Shrimp Tacos with Roasted Pineapple Salsa! Here's how to make it!

To start, if you have shrimp with their peel and tails still on like mine, remove the shells and veins.

Run a paring knife down the back of the shrimp (but not too deep, just lightly!), exposing the vein. Then, simply pull it out. Of course, to make like easier, you could always buy shrimp that are already cleaned.

Next, the breading "stations". Theoretically, you want to have 3 separate dishes filled with: 1) Flour 2) Egg-wash 3) Breadcrumbs/Shredded Coconut. My recipe is a little different, but I start out as usual, with all-purpose flour.

In place of the egg-wash, I combine equal parts coconut milk and water.

The creaminess of the coconut milk imitates the egg, and the water keeps it from being too thick and sticky on the shrimp.

For the last layer of breading, fine unsweetened coconut makes a perfectly crispy crust. Since it's not like the typical long strings of coconut, it turns out similar to how panko breadcrumbs would.

(Tip: I make sure to season every "station" with a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder. This helps to create a flavorful coating.)

Finally, pan-fry the shrimp. The shrimp only need about 1 minute per side, just until golden-brown and crispy. Then, transfer to a paper towel-lined platter to drain.

(Funny story...Right when I was about to cook the shrimp, I realized...I only had about a 1/4 cup of canola oil left. It barely filled out the bottom of the bottle. I guess, though, this was a fortunate turn of events. Giving up the deep-frying meant that I could feel better about devouring multiple tacos...Right?...That's how it works...)

Now, the roasted pineapple salsa! Roasting the pineapple gives it a nice char and smoky flavor. (Remember my Grilled Pineapple Ceviche?)

I used two, large jalapenos and removed the seeds and most of the ribs. This adds enough jalapeno flavor without overwhelming with heat, but if you prefer a spicier kick, add one more. (Or even a habanero pepper!)

Lay all of the pineapple and vegetables out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then lightly toss them with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper.

After roasting at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, everything will be tender and caramelized. The juice from the pineapple and tomato just spreads across the pan, with the onion, garlic, and jalapeno bubbling away in this tasty combination.

Seriously. Your kitchen will smell awesome. (I may or may not have stood in front of my oven door. Inhaling...And I may or may not recommend that you do the same...)

Transfer the vegetables to a food processor, and make sure to really scrape the parchment paper and get all of the good roasty bits and pan juices.

Lastly, what really gives a salsa its fresh and bright flavor, the cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice.

I love cilantro, so I used about a 1/2 cup's worth of leaves. Feel free to use a little less than that if you want a more subtle flavor.

Puree until the salsa is as smooth as you prefer. I usually let it go a little longer for a finer texture. That way, I get a little bit of everything in each bite and the flavors can really meld together.

The last thing you'll need is the tortilla. I only use corn tortillas for tacos, but some people can't stand how thin they are and how easily they rip apart. Others might even say corn tortillas taste like cardboard. (*Cough* You cannot be my friend. *Cough*)

My advice? Find a handmade-style corn tortilla. They're a little bit thicker and softer, like flour tortillas, but the distinct corn taste is still there. I loved these La Tortilla Factory ones because they held together very well. No need to double up!

To complete the taco, I simply added shredded lettuce and garnished with lime wedges. The coconut shrimp and roasted pineapple salsa really shine all on their own.

With this recipe, I'll never have to worry about No Meat Fridays again. The crunch and pop from the shrimp, the toasty flavor of the coconut, and the sweet-yet-tart pineapple with just enough kick from the jalapeno...all the makings of a well-balanced taco. I could just picture myself posted on a beach somewhere, with these babies and an ice cold beer. So the next time you need to distance yourself from the heavier meats, or you're looking for a little vacation on a plate, try these Coconut Shrimp Tacos with Roasted Pineapple Salsa! :)

Coconut Shrimp Tacos with Roasted Pineapple Salsa (makes 10-12 small tacos)

Print Recipe

Coconut Shrimp Tacos:
2 lbs large Shrimp (16/20 ct), peeled & deveined
1/4 cup Flour (coconut or all-purpose)
1/4 cup Coconut Milk
1/4 cup Water
1 - 1 1/2 cups Finely Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
Salt & Pepper
Canola Oil, for frying

Corn Tortillas
Shredded Lettuce
Lime Wedges, for garnish

Roasted Pineapple Salsa:
2 cups Chopped Fresh Pineapple (or 1 10-oz. package of pre-cut, fresh pineapple)
2 Tomatoes, seeds removed & roughly chopped
2-3 large Jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 Yellow Onion, roughly chopped
4 large Garlic Cloves, peeled
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Juice of 1 Lime

  1. To make salsa: Evenly layer all of the pineapple and vegetables onto a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp each), then lightly toss everything together. Roast for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees, until everything is tender and caramelized. Next, transfer to a food processor, add lime juice and as much cilantro as desired, and puree until as smooth as preferred. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. To make coconut shrimp: Create 3 "stations"/dishes for breading: 1) Flour 2) Coconut Milk + Water 3) Shredded Coconut. Season each "station" with salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp each). Then, coat shrimp in batches, and dust off excess before moving to next "station". After all of the shrimp is breaded, saute in a pan over medium-high heat. Shrimp only need about 1 minute per side, until browned and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined platter to drain.
  3. To make tacos: Warm tortillas on a dry saute pan or griddle, just 20-30 seconds per side, then transfer to plate. Top tortilla with shredded lettuce, coconut shrimp, and roasted pineapple salsa. Garnish with lime wedge.
  4. Serve tacos immediately. Enjoy!