Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Heather Hadduck Hillegas
Coating an ingredient with crumbs and oven-baking locks in moisture and adds satisfying crunch. The trick? Making sure breading doesn't flake off after cooking. By coating the food with cornstarch, then dipping in egg whites and dredge in whole wheat bread crumbs, the crispy outers of the coconut shrimp are not going anywhere except directly to your mouth.
Serves 4 (serving size: about 6 shrimp)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Chop coconut in a food processor. Add panko; pulse to combine.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add panko mixture; cook 3 minutes or until toasted, stirring. Why? Toasting enhances color, deepens flavor, and amps up the crunch factor.
4. Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Place panko mixture in a shallow dish; stir in rind and pepper. What? Three layers are needed: a dry, floury coating like cornstarch or flour; a wet layer like egg or buttermilk; and a crumb coating.
5. Sprinkle shrimp evenly with salt. Dredge each shrimp in cornstarch; dip in egg whites, shaking off excess; and coat with panko mixture. Why? The wet layer (egg whites) clings to the floury layer (cornstarch), forming a pastelike consistency that allows the coarse-textured breading (panko) to adhere to the shrimp.
6. Place shrimp on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; coat shrimp with cooking spray. Bake at 400°F for 8 minutes or until shrimp are done and coating is crisp.
Why? The cornstarch-egg mixture cooks and dries to form a strong bond between the crumbs and shrimp so breading won't fall off.