These fun shrimp lollypops, from the famed Food Network chef, can be presented in a watermelon for a summer backyard party.
Apricot-Ginger Dipping Sauce
3/4 cup of apricot jam
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds discarded, minced
2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar or freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Coconut Shrimp Lollypops
1 coconut, ideally prescored (first-timers should buy a spare coconut)
1/2 cup beer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 jumbo shrimp (21-25 count; that's 21 to 30 to a pound) shelled and deveined
3-5 cups peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
1 wedge of watermelon (for presentation)
Step 1: Place all dipping sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor. Purée. Reserve.
Step 2: With the coconut and a medium-size bowl in hand, go find yourself a concrete step. Break the coconut in half by banging the centre (along the equator of the coconut) repeatedly on the edge of the step. Split the coconut over the bowl and salvage some of the water if possible. Reserve the smaller half of the coconut. Bang the larger half on the concrete to break it into smaller pieces. Back in your kitchen, use a table knife to separate the coconut meat from the shell. Then use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the brown skin from the meat.
Step 3: Use the fine part of your grater to shred 2 cups of coconut. Reserve in a shallow bowl.
Step 4: Pour coconut water into a measuring cup and, if necessary, top off with beer until you have 3/4 cup of liquid. Reserve. If you are using store-bought shredded coconut (and consequently do not have any coconut water), replace mixture with 3/4 cup of beer.
Step 5: In a large bowl, combine flour, coconut water/beer mixture, egg, cayenne, baking powder, and salt. Beat until it is smooth. Add a bit more flour or beer, if necessary, so that the batter has the consistency of thick pancake batter. Reserve.
Step 6: Use a paper towel to pat dry the shrimp. Tightly wrap each shrimp like a pinwheel (with the tail end of the shrimp on the outside), then place one shrimp on the end of each 6" bamboo skewer. Reserve in refrigerator.
Step 7: Pour oil into a small, tall pot until it is 3" deep. Heat oil until it reaches 350ºF.
Step 8: While oil is heating, dip each shrimp in the batter, then pat it down in the coconut shreds so that the entire "lollypop" is covered in coconut shreds. Transfer to a plate.
Step 9: When oil is ready, submerge 4 shrimp at a time into the oil. Don't worry if the skewers go into the oil. Fry for approximately 2 minutes, or until coconut is golden brown, rotating once or twice. Transfer lollypops to a paper towel.
Step 10: Skim any wayward coconut shreds from the oil. Adjust heat so that it is 350ºF again and continue with next batch. For a creative presentation, stick skewers in a watermelon wedge and/or serve the dipping sauce in the unused coconut half.
Makes 12 lollypops
Reprinted with permission from Bob Blumer's Surreal Gourmet Bites: Showstoppers and Conversation Starters (2004 Chronicle Books).