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If you ever want to see a couple hundred sportswriters totally lose their minds, have Bruce Springsteen play an acoustic set during his press conference. When you are ready to send that same group, composed primarily of middle-aged white guys from the midwest, into overload, just put some fried shrimp out on the media buffet. Tampa Bay played host for the momentous game for the 2008-09 season. I had the honor of being one of the local press corps. At the time, it was one of the most memorable moments of my young journalism career. I remember spending 12 hours a day bouncing around the media hotel in downtown Tampa. I remember the bedlam of media day and getting trapped in an elevator with a male reporter in a fancy dress. I remember the parties and the cacophony of radio row. Oddly enough, I most vividly remember the food. Especially, the fried coconut shrimp that was served in the media lunch room and press box. Mainly because it nearly caused riots every time they were brought out along with the mango habanero salsa they served it with.
Because of my experience that week, football will be inextricably linked to those shrimp. With a little help from El Yucateco® brand hot sauces, they might become one of your game time staples too.
I’m not joking when I say there was a literal dog pile to get at these succulent shrimp. Former players-turned-broadcasters were showing off the stiff arm skills they hadn’t used since their playing days. One of the hosts actually left radio row, the wing of the hotel that housed the radio guys for live broadcasts, in the middle of his show. He just wore his wireless headphones out to the adjoining media hospitality room. As far as I could tell, he didn’t miss a beat on the interview he was conducting.
There was plenty of other food like Cuban sandwiches and fried plantains, meant to showcase Tampa’s culinary diversity to the out-of-town media, most of which probably came from land-locked places, like Arizona, where seafood is an overpriced novelty. Being from Florida, shrimp is as common a meal as fried chicken. I can fry up some pretty boss shrimp which is why I created a tradition of cooking up a big batch of fried shrimp for the big games on Sunday.
Here’s my secret to making amazing, Florida-style fried coconut shrimp with a sweet mango habanero salsa with an assist from El Yucateco® sauces which is a #1 authentic habanero hot sauce.
You will need two pounds of raw shrimp, flour, cornmeal, an IPA-style beer, shredded coconut, key limes, and a pinch of salt.
To make fresh salsa, I blended El Yucateco® XXX Habanero Hot Sauce (Kutbilik), mangos, white onion, fresh cilantro, honey, salt, and limes.
Use El Yucateco® XXX Kutbili-ik Habanero Hot Sauce for best results. Start with 2 tablespoons worth and add more to taste. (I like mine hot, so I went for four). According to the company, this is a rescued recipe from the Mayan vault. It has 90% of the fruit- the largest percentage of raw material in its category. This sauce is made from the ripest habaneros giving it a slightly rustic and earthy flavor.
Made from habaneros hand-picked from their own fields, El Yucateco® sauces are handcrafted to deliver rich flavor with just the right amount of heat.
Although this sauce registers around 12,000 units on the Scoville Heat Index, it actually balances well with the mango and honey sweetness, and as you will see, compliments the sweet and salty flavors of the shrimp.
For the shrimp:
- 2 pounds raw shrimp (Jumbo 10/12 count)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1 12-ounce IPA-style beer
- 2 cups shredded coconut
- 2 key limes
- 1 tbsp salt
- El Yucateco® XXX Habanero Hot Sauce (Kutbilik)
For the salsa:
- El Yucateco® XXX Habanero Hot Sauce (Kutbilik). 2tbsp or more depending on how you like it
- 2 mangos
- 1 white onion
- 2 cups fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 key limes
- Let’s start with the salsa base. Peel and "de-nut" the mangos, which for best results are just a little under-ripe, and cut into cubes.
- Dice the onions while blaming your tears on your favorite team not making the playoffs…again. Chop the cilantro leaves to remove most of the stems.
- Add honey, salt and the juice from the fresh limes along with the base into a food processor along with the hot sauce.
- Use El Yucateco® XXX Kutbili-ik Habanero Hot Sauce for best results. Start with 2 tablespoons worth and add more to taste. (I like mine hot, so I went for four).
- Blend until it becomes a course paste texture and chill. Garnish with a whole cilantro leaves and a lime wedge when ready to serve.
For the shrimp:
- Marinate shrimp in El Yucateco® XXX Habanero Hot Sauce (Kutbilik) while you prepare your dish.
- Heat your deep fryer to 375 degrees or prepare in a cast iron skillet with oil.
- Peel and de-vein your shrimp and split down the middle to butterfly, leaving the tail portion of the shell on. Rinse under cold water.
- Add salt and fresh lime juice to the shrimp while they chill.
- In a large mixing bowl, create a basic beer batter with flour, cornmeal and a 12 ounce beer. I prefer IPA style for a beer batter as the hoppiness adds a subtle spice.
- Add shredded coconut to separate bowl.
- Dip each shrimp tail in batter and then toss it into the shredded coconut until it is well-covered. Slowly drop each shrimp into the fryer and cook for about five minutes per batch. Depending on the size of your fryer —and your shrimp— you will probably have to cook them in batches of five or six so that they all cook evenly and at the same rate.
- Remove from heat and let cool on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- Serve with salsa over a bed of cilantro. A perfect game-day snack that you won’t even have to fight a guy named Boomer for.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 930Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 286mgSodium: 5140mgCarbohydrates: 139gFiber: 13gSugar: 46gProtein: 44g
The nutritional information here is an estimate. While I try to provide accurate information via Nutritionix, this information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that it will be completely accurate. I am not a certified nutritionist and any information sunnysweetdays.com should only be used as a general guideline.
Serve with salsa over a bed of cilantro. A perfect game-day snack that you won’t even have to fight a guy named Boomer for.
Spicy Shrimp Recipes:
What’s your favorite tailgate treat? You can also try roasted shrimp too!