Coconut Shrimp – it’s everywhere in Oahu. Restaurants, food trucks, even convenience stores. Yes, it’s THAT delicious! But the most sought after dishes are arguably the three food trucks next to the shrimp ponds just north of the country town of Kahuku. The debate rages on regarding which truck has the best recipe. You may just have to try them all and decide for yourself. But arrive early or you may wait up to an hour for your order.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is no stranger to coconut shrimp either. Here is our tried and true recipe, and you’ll find it easy and delicious!

photo of coconut shrimp in fry pan with play button

Click on photo to see our Taste of Polynesia recipe video

Ingredients for coconut shrimp:

12 large shrimp (21/30 in a package) peeled and deveined  (optional: butterfly your shrimp depending on size)

1 cup shredded coconut (fresh is always better, but you can use  sweetened or unsweetened grated coconut from the baking section of your local grocery store and still have a delicious dish)

1 cup panko or whole wheat bread crumbs

1.5 cups coconut milk

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1 tsp fresh minced garlic or garlic salt


Mix shredded coconut and panko, set aside. Blend remaining ingredients to make a batter. Dip shrimp in batter, then roll in coconut/panko mix.

Prepare a pan lined in 2 – 3 layers of paper towels and have placed near (but not on) the stovetop.

Fry in large skillet with approximately 1 1/2 inch of coconut or vegetable oil (grape seed oil works very well), usually 1 – 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

 NOTE: Watch carefully while heating the oil so that it does not burn. We suggest you turn the burner onto medium high and test two drops of batter. It should brown nicely in approximately 1 minute. If the oil smokes, it is too hot. If the batter is still sticky or runny, you will need to push the temperature up just a touch.

Serve over rice with fresh ginger sauce (see recipe below)

Optional: Serve with sautéed vegetables such as onions, chopped green peppers, pineapple chunks, chopped carrots, sliced mushrooms or spinach.

Mix shredded coconut and panko, set aside.


Blend remaining ingredients to make a batter


Dip shrimp in batter


Then roll in the coconut/panko mix


photo showing battered shrimp frying for Coconut Shrimp recipe

Fry in large skillet with approximately 1.5 – 2″ of coconut or vegetable oil


Drain on pan lined in paper towels

Ingredients for fresh ginger sauce:

1 cup brown sugar (not packed)

1/3 c. vinegar

½ tsp. freshly grated ginger

3/4 c. pineapple juice or water

1 tbl. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbl water


Boil water or pineapple juice and vinegar for 1 minute. Stir in brown sugar and ginger, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Place cornstarch in small bowl and add 2 tbl water. Mix thoroughly with fork.

Slowly mix water/cornstarch mixture into simmering sauce, and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Mixture will thicken as it cools. If necessary, refrigerate cooled sauce until ready to serve, reheat and pour over shrimp.

Boil water and vinegar


Add all ingredients except cornstarch and simmer for 5 minutes


Place cornstarch in small bowl and add 2 tbl water. Slowly blend into vinegar and sugar mixture and cook as directed.

Nina S Jones

Nina S Jones

Nina Jones, a mainland gal from way back, is now a transplanted Islander. With her husband of 41 years, she volunteers at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Her hobbies include swimming, traveling, studying and writing about what she is learning from the various Polynesian cultures. Her blogs focus on their history, beliefs, practices and – as an added bonus – delicious food! To her, Polynesia is not just a place to visit, it is a way to live and she is very honored to be able to be a part of their amazing world.