Food: Coconut shrimp bursts with flavor of lime, spice

Kate Lawson
The Detroit News

Coconut and lime are two of my favorite flavors; throw in a little heat and I’m in heaven. When I get the opportunity to enjoy Thai or Vietnamese cuisine I jump at the chance. The Thai chicken coconut soup called Tom Kha Gai is a must-have for sure and I crave the flavors in the Vietnamese dish Bun Tom Xao, a spicy pepper shrimp noodle dish. But I don’t often get to restaurants where these are available, so I try to re-create the flavors at home.

Recently, I decided to prepare a variation of the two dishes in one lovely, spicy shrimp coconut concoction flavored with chili sauce, lemon and kaffir lime leaves.

Kaffir lime leaves are not the easiest to find, but several Asian markets do carry the fresh leaves, which usually come frozen and last a long time. Thai Kitchen brand also has them dried and they can be found in the international aisle or spice aisle of most major supermarkets. I prefer the fresh/frozen but in a pinch the dried works well.

My goal this year is to have my own kaffir lime tree so I can pluck fresh leaves the same way I do with my bay tree. Of course if you can’t find this wonderful leaf, use lime zest as a substitute.

Two different chili sauces are used here: sweet chili sauce, which is commonly made with red chili peppers, rice wine vinegar, sometimes garlic, sometimes fish sauce and sugar, is a condiment found in Asian markets but Trader Joe’s also carries as well. As for regular chili sauce, Heinz works well or Sriracha if you want something hotter.

This dish is beyond easy as you simply marinate the shrimp in the lemon, chili sauce and kaffir lime for about 10 minutes then toss the whole mixture, along with some unsweetened coconut milk, into a hot skillet for a few minutes. Serve atop rice or noodles and sprinkle with cilantro and you’ve got the best of both worlds, at least in my book.

Coconut Shrimp With Kaffir Lime

Recipe adapted from

1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/3 cup sweet chili sauce

1 lemon, juice and zest

3 kaffir lime leaves, sliced or 1 lime, zest

1 teaspoon chili sauce or to taste (Sriracha)

1 tablespoon fish sauce

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Marinate the shrimp in the sweet chili sauce, lemon juice, lemon zest, kaffir lime leaves, chili sauce, fish sauce, garlic and sugar for 10 or more minutes.

Heat a pan over medium heat.

Add the shrimp along with the marinade and the coconut milk and simmer until the shrimp are cooked, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, spoon over rice and sprinkle with cilantro. Serves 4.

Per serving: 156 calories; 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 29 percent calories from fat); 11 g carbohydrates; 4 g sugar; 166 mg cholesterol; 825 mg sodium; 19 g protein; 3 g fiber.