` My stomach is basically eating itself. I am so hungry. Then almost as if I were in some cartoon, a smell so warm enters my nose and stays. What is that smell? Why can I taste the smell? My mouth is beginning to water. I followed the smell to the kitchen and there my was grandma ofcourse making this delicious coconut shrimp. If I can hear my stomach growl, so can my grandma. Having coconut shrimp is rare for me to eat. The only time I indulge myself with some, is when I am in the Cayman Islands. It is always so fresh and I feel like seafood is better when you’re on an island, but that’s just me.
The Cayman Islands is located in the western Caribbean, where coconut shrimp was said to originate from. The Polynesia islands and the Caribbean is where the shrimp and coconuts are found along the coast. The best places on the island in my opinion to eat coconut shrimp is either Sunset House or Almond Tree Restaurant. The Sunset House is still open today and their food is always a treat. Sadly, years ago the Almond Tree was knocked down, I was never able to go, seeing that I was not even a blimp in someone’s imagination, but the Almond Tree holds many warm memories to those who have been.
Almond Tree Restaurant
I found one coconut shrimp recipe that I liked and wanted to try out. Now, I know it won’t taste anything like my grandma’s cooking because well nothing can compare to her cooking. When I watch my grandma make coconut shrimp she makes it look so easy, she knows the recipe like the back of her hand. Me on the other hand, struggles with cooking and following the recipe. If my grandma was here I would definitely have her cook it for me and take all the credit, but she’s all the way in Miami so it looks like I’m going to have to make this on my own. It does not take long to make, only about ten minutes, so I know my anxiety won’t get out of control. Coconut shrimp prepared in the traditional Grand Cayman style. Yes, the dish may sound unfamiliar to you, but unless you’ve tried a bite of the Caymanian delicacy, you haven’t truly experienced this culinary marvel. The ideal combination of crunchy and crispy fried shrimp covered in a delectable, subtle tropical coconut flavor instantly brings the flavor of the Cayman Islands to life in irresistible bite after delightful bite.
History Behind Coconut Shrimp
People who are interested in the “Tiki Lifestyle” or “Tiki Culture” yearn to get away from the hectic lives we lead. We desire to know that we have a specific location—whether it be physical or mental—where we can retreat to unwind. Polynesian culture, notably the idea that Tiki was the first man on Earth, defines Tiki historically and geographically. Hawaiian and Polynesian pop music from the 1930s through the 1950s served as the inspiration for the Tiki genre, which combined these cultures’ distinctive foods, drinks, and decorations. Food is a fusion of Asian and South Pacific cooking that has been Americanized. Tiki culture was prevalent in American culture throughout the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The post-World War II tiki fad saw the introduction of coconut shrimp. The nation was suffering from island fever, and everything remotely tropical or beachy was in vogue. Is it surprising that island-themed cuisine quickly followed? especially since sweetened, shredded coconut, another post-war novelty from the tropics, was also offered. Coconut shrimp, a relic of postwar tiki culture, were a sign of exotic luxury in the 1960s and 1970s, appearing on the menus of upscale cosmopolitan eateries like the Rainbow Room and country clubs. Deep-fried shrimp were already popular prior to this time period, but it’s not hard to imagine how an inventive tiki restaurant owner might have chosen to deep-fry shrimp with sweetened, shredded coconut (another postwar invention). The result is a crunchy, nutty-sweet appetizer that goes well with a fruity rum cocktail.
What You’ll Need
- DIPPING SAUCE
- 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed dry
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup piña colada drink mix
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- COCONUT SHRIMP
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails left on
- 2 cups vegetable oil
What to Do
- In a medium bowl, combine Dipping Sauce ingredients; mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- In a shallow dish, combine flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, beat together eggs and water. Place coconut and bread crumbs in another shallow dish.
- Coat shrimp with flour mixture, then with egg mixture. Roll in coconut mixture, pressing mixture firmly onto shrimp to coat completely.
- In a deep skillet over medium heat, heat oil until hot, but not smoking. Cook shrimp in batches 2 to 3 minutes or until golden, turning once during cooking. Drain on a paper towel-lined platter. Serve immediately with Dipping Sauce.
About the Ingredients
Now, about as much as I can gather about the ingredients needed to make this dish I have luckily stumbled across some history.
Since ancient times, people have enjoyed eating shrimp. Greeks and Romans loved to cook shrimp, according to ancient sources. They were gluttons for fish, although they preferred shrimp above the other fish species. The Romans either fried or roasted huge shrimp, unlike the Greeks who cooked them after wrapping them in fig leaves. Before serving the cooked shrimp, a few drops of honey would be drizzled over them. In practically every region of the world, including Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, Central America, South America, and the Mediterranean, shrimp has also been a common diet. Initially, the Southern waterways were the principal source of shrimp for Americans. Later, canned shrimp gained enormous popularity in America. Shrimp harvesting by machine was a common practice by 1917. Fresh shrimp became widely available as a result. Shrimp preparation was destined to become a common American food. In Alabama, industrialization of seafood gathering and preservation began in the early 1800s. The shrimp was transported around the state by train while being kept in ice. The canning technique was introduced in the 1900s and eventually took over as the most popular way to treat seafood. About 150,000 people were working in Louisiana’s seafood business at the end of the 19th century. Power boats were first used for shrimp fishing in Florida in 1902. The otter trawl was first used by Florida shrimpers in 1913. The Florida shrimpers held the distinction of being the first to pursue shrimp in offshore waters.
The coconut made its way to Europe starting in the early 16th century via the “maritime Silk Road” after explorer-colonizers like Vasco da Gama pursued a direct trade route between Portugal and India under the guidance of maps and navigational data mapped by the renowned Arab navigator Ahmad ibn Majid 50 years earlier. The coconut’s modern name, coco-nut, was coined by da Gama and other Portuguese traders because they thought it resembled a cocuruto, or skull, with three spots on the end that looked like two eyes and a mouth and coconut fibers that looked like hair. Europeans created exquisite goblets with precious metals and diamonds inlaid because they thought coconut shells had healing charm in the sixteenth century. The 19th century saw the continuation of this practice. Coconuts were transported to what are now the Americas as a result of the shadowy side of European maritime trade. Coconuts were introduced to the Caribbean with colonization and the slave trade (which also brought many indentures from India), and they flourished there because of the humid, subtropical climate.
The Brazilian rainforests are where the pineapple is thought to have first appeared. Native tribes gathered pineapples, which were then dispersed across South and Central America. The fruit was given the Spanish name “pia” when Christopher Columbus first arrived in the New World in 1493 because of its resemblance to a pinecone. When Columbus returned to Spain, the pineapple quickly gained popularity among Queen Isabella. In greenhouses, the fruit was produced all across Europe. In order to connect the new fruit with other delectable fruits, the English appended the word “apple” to the end of the pia. In the 16th century, pineapples were brought to Europe and quickly gained enormous popularity. The pineapple then made its way to India and then Australia.
Since the beginning of time, flour has been produced. Grain was first ground between stones in order to make flour. The saddlestone method and the mortar-and-pestle method are examples of these techniques. The saddlestone approach can be novel, although the mortar and pestle method is well-known to most people. When rolling a cylindrical stone against grain that is kept in a stone bowl, staddle stones are employed. Sometimes, the quern approach was employed. This happens when grain is supported by another horizontal stone and spun on top of it.
According to legend, the cayenne pepper came from Cayenne, French Guiana. Commonly, it is dried and powdered into a fine powder. In several dishes, it is also used fresh. It can be found growing all over the world, including in Mexico, East Africa, India, and some regions of the United States.
Vegetable production first started thousands of years ago. Any available material was used for a range of cooking tasks. Later, they discovered how to heat oily plants to extract the oils by using the sun, a fire, or an oven. The first oil was made from soybeans as early as 3000 BC in China and Japan. By 2000 BC, southern Europeans were already making olive oil. China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome were the first countries to attempt mass manufacture. They would use millstones, mortars, or even their feet to crush various types of vegetable materials. Following that, they put the supplies in baskets. 50 of these baskets were occasionally stacked on top of one another.
This food, which no one required but which everyone craved, is what gave rise to the modern world. For the large sugar plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean, there was a huge demand for labor. Approximately 12,570,000 people were transported from Africa to the Americas as a result of the transatlantic slave trade between 1501 and 1867. On each voyage, mortality rates might be as high as 25%, and 1–2 million bodies must have been cast overboard. Of course, the elites of Africa had to be bought with commodities like copper and brass, rum, cloth, tobacco, and weaponry. The Atlantic island of Madeira was the first area to specifically plant sugarcane for extensive refinement and trade in the late 15th century. The Portuguese were the first to realize that Brazil, where a plantation economy based on slavery had been developed, offered new and advantageous circumstances for sugar plantations. Before 1647, Brazilian sugarcane was imported to the Caribbean, spurring the development of an industry that eventually fed Western Europe’s sugar mania.
The history of the world as told by salt is straightforward: animals left trails to salt licks, humans followed, the tracks turned into roads, and towns formed next to them. More salt was required to complement the diet when salt-rich game was replaced on the human menu by cereals. However, the deposits below earth were out of reach, and the amount of salt applied to the surface was insufficient. The mineral’s rarity kept it valuable. Salt became one of the main commercial commodities as civilization spread. The world was covered in salt trade routes. One of the busiest routes went from Morocco to Timbuktu via a crossing of the Sahara. The Mediterranean and the Aegean were traveled by ships carrying salt from Egypt to Greece. In addition to flavoring and preserving food, salt also worked well as an antibacterial, which is why Salus, the goddess of health, is related to the Roman name for these healthful crystals, sal.
Egg farms were still primarily backyard systems in the 1920s and 1930s. Many farmers kept laying hens to provide eggs for their families and would sell any surplus eggs at neighborhood farmers markets. As selling eggs started to pay off, some farmers began to amass flocks of roughly 400 hens. With a coop for roosting, the hens were free to explore outside. The late 1920s saw the beginning of continuing education. Some poultry researchers used raised wire-floor housing for hens in the late 1940s with good results. By the early 1960s, larger commercial operations had replaced small farm flocks as a result of advances in technology and the creation of sophisticated mechanical equipment.
My stomach will not stop growling. Reading about food in fact does get one hungry. It is interesting to see how all these foods came to be and how humans incorporated them into our daily lives.
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Ganeshram, Written by Ramin. “Cracking Coconut’s History.” AramcoWorld, https://www.aramcoworld.com/Articles/January-2017/Cracking-Coconut-s-History.
Mark Horton Professor in Archaeology, et al. “A History of Sugar – the Food Nobody Needs, but Everyone Craves.” The Conversation, 26 Nov. 2022, https://theconversation.com/a-history-of-sugar-the-food-nobody-needs-but-everyone-craves-49823#:~:text=The%20first%20chemically%20refined%20sugar,important%20centres%20for%20sugar%20production.
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https://clck.ru/e6NFZ?h=099425b31631056f3a2f347e2e0c471d- says: “Tiki Culture: Tiki Lounge Talk.” Tiki Lounge Talk | The Hep Joint for Swingin’ Kats and Kittens, 21 Mar. 2021, http://tikiloungetalk.com/tiki-culture/.