Shrimp is a great go-to weeknight meal because of its speedy cook time, but sometimes I like to elevate it just a tad with flavors we all know and love. Pan-seared shrimp with a quick guajillo sauce lightened with coconut milk seemed juuuuust right.
The pièce de résistance of this dish is the garnish, the GARNISH! Slow-toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes and scallions tossed in coconut oil until perfectly golden may be the best garnish I’ve made in a while.
For some, the word “garnish” conjures up images of fancy crisp white tablecloths or too many bowls to clean, while others consider these culinary embellishments overly complicated or an unnecessary step.
Quite the contrary! Garnishes are an essential component for all types of food and not only the pinkies-up kind. You’re not serving a baked potato without butter or sour cream or eating tacos without cilantro, right?
In fact, a cooked garnish should be carefully selected. In the dish at hand, the coconut garnish is as important as the shrimp and once you taste it, you’ll understand why.
Shrimp with guajillo sauce is a very common dish, but it’s the garnish that completely changes the dynamic. And the coconut milk lightens the sauce and makes it different and creamier.
The coconut not only complements the shrimp (which is why it’s a well-known duo), it also mirrors the coconut milk in the sauce (which marries the flavors together), and the scallions which are caramelized and sweet play with the spiciness of the sauce.
Sauces are often too labor-intensive for a weeknight meal but many Mexican sauces are quick and easy. This guajillo sauce takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and is bubbling while the garnish is toasting and the shrimp is cooking.
If, after a hard day’s work a sauce is too involved (and it is sometimes for me), whip up a big batch on the weekend #mealprep and then this little feast would literally come together in about 10 minutes or less.
You can serve small amounts as appetizers for a dinner party or large portions for dinner. Either way, people are always impressed with this dish and it’s because you took that small extra step to create a cooked garnish.
- • 1.5 lbs large shrimp, deveined & tails-on
- • 3 dried guajillo peppers
- • 1 white onion, chopped
- • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- • 3 plum tomatoes, deseeded & chopped
- • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- • ½ cup coconut milk
- • 3 cups water
- • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- • ½ teaspoon paprika
- • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- • ¾ cup scallions, sliced
- • Salt and pepper
- In a large frying pan, toast the guajillos until pliable (about 1-2 minutes). Trim and deseed the peppers.
- In a pot, boil the peppers in 3 cups of water until soft. Add the peppers to a blender with the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and cilantro. Pour in half of the water and reserve the rest. Blend until completely smooth.
- Pour the mixture back into the frying pan and cook on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes. Once it reduces, add the coconut milk and season. Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes on low heat. If it needs more liquid, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.
- Meanwhile, in another large frying pan, melt coconut oil over medium heat and toast the scallions and coconut until golden brown. Add salt to taste and set aside.
- Season the shrimp with salt, granulated garlic, paprika and pepper.
- In the same large frying pan in which you toasted the coconut, heat olive oil to medium-high heat and sear the shrimp for 1-2 minutes per side.
- Spoon the sauce into a bowl and top with shrimp. Garnish with the toasted coconut and scallion mixture. Buen provecho!