A couple years ago I had Coconut Shrimp as an appetizer at a restaurant and couldn't stop thinking about it afterward. I attempted my own version of Coconut Shrimp but REALLY hate deep frying at home. It makes my house reek like a greasy diner for days and breading all those little shrimps was just too much of a pain. I loved the flavor and crunch too much to let the idea go, so I decided to coat some chicken cut into strips and bake it in the oven for ease and to make them healthier.
BINGO. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.
Recipe by Meal Planning 101
2 large chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
For dipping: Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
I like to use bone-in chicken breasts and save the bone for Freezer Chicken Stock. If you are using bone-in chicken breasts, slide your knife along the breast bone to remove it. The tender fillet will remove easily, so set it aside. The chicken breast will be about an inch thick, so slide a sharp knife along the middle of it so you have two cutlets (now about 1/2 inch thick each). Then cut each cutlet into even strips about the size of the fillet. Season all pieces with salt and pepper.
Set up a breading station with:
Bowl #1 - flour, garlic powder and onion powder (mixed together well).
Bowl #2 - 2 eggs, beaten well.
Bowl #3 - panko and coconut (mixed together well).
Place a rack on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray. Coat each chicken finger first in the flour, then egg, then the coconut/breadcrumbs and place on the prepared baking sheet. When all chicken fingers are done, spray with cooking spray or drizzle with a bit of oil.
Bake in oven for 10 minutes, then flip over and bake for 4 more minutes. You can broil for a final minute or two just to get the coconut to toast and go a little more golden.
Serve with Thai Sweet Chili sauce for dipping.
Click here for printable version of Coconut-Crusted Chicken Fingers
According to my kitchen journal, I actually concocted these back in August of '09, but I just wasn't satisfied with the dipping sauce yet. I've tried dipping them in spicy mayo (sriracha hot sauce mixed into mayo), which was good but heavy. I tried this fancy lime and sweet chili sauce, that was just too bitter and STILL not what I was looking for. In the end, we tried one night dipping them in Thai Sweet Chili sauce poured straight from the bottle and my husband and I both looked and each other in agreement: that's the one. Simple and easy, it gives the chicken fingers a nice bit of sweetness with a touch of heat.
I'm always amazed at the crunch you can get by coating things in panko. These are crunchy, savory and slightly sweet, pleasing to both kids and adults alike.
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