Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Coconut Shrimp Arancini with Pineapple Jalapeno Sauce

True confession...I think I might have made something with coconut once in my life. When I found out one of our sponsors was going to be Tropical Traditions, I was very excited to expand my horizons! I did learn through this challenge that Tropical Traditions is America's source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil looked very intriguing!  I decided on another product though...read on.


True confession number two...I love arancini, but have never been brave enough to try them at home. I've enjoyed the crispy rice balls filled with tomato sauce, cheese, peas...sometimes sausage or ham. I always thought they would be difficult to make at home. I'm here to tell you they're not difficult at all! The hardest part is forming the balls. It is a time consuming recipe, there are steps. It can very easily be made ahead, though, then you can "wow" your family and friends!

Transforming two favorite and perennial flavor combinations - coconut and shrimp - into a hearty, chewy and crunchy ball of goodness was an easy decision! I also ground up some of the dried coconut flakes into a powder that I used to coat the outside of the arancini for extra crunch!

This recipe makes about 8-10 arancini, depending how large you make them. I got 8...some of them were pretty large!

First, you have to make the risotto. It's important to use risotto for this recipe because the creaminess and starch help bind the rice balls. You also have to cool the risotto, so it's imperative to start this recipe ahead. I used Arborio rice and followed the basic risotto directions on the box. My proportions were 1 cup rice to 3 cups broth. I used chicken broth. You could also use coconut milk to make the risotto if you'd like to ramp up the flavor more! Next time, that's my plan. 

Coconut Shrimp Arancini with Pineapple Jalapeno Sauce
by Mary P

1 recipe risotto made by following the instructions on the rice package - refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until cooled completely

Coconut Shrimp Filling: 
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound medium sized shrimp, coarsely chopped
1 cup coconut flakes (I used Tropical Traditions Organic Dried Coconut)
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper

Saute red pepper in olive oil, set aside to cool. Mix shrimp, coconut & garlic until well blended. Add cooled red pepper. Season with salt & pepper. Set aside. 

To make the arancini:
Put 1/2 cup coconut flakes into food processor and grind until it's a coarse powder. Set aside.

Oil your hands when forming the arancini. Take a medium scoop of rice, flatten and press a Tablespoon of the filling into the middle. Gather the edges of the rice into the middle & shape into a ball. Roll into ground coconut powder and set aside. Continue with the rest of the rice, filling and coconut powder.

Deep fry at 370°F, until deep golden brown to ensure the shrimp has cooked through.

Serve with Pineapple Jalapeno Sauce:
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
Small clove garlic, crushed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup pineapple sauce (I made this by blending 1/2 cup, or so, pineapple tidbits in food processor)
1/2 cup jalapeno jelly
1 Tablespoon grapefruit balsamic vinegar (I had this on hand, but rice vinegar or cider vinegar would be a fine substitute)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sriracha

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over low heat until soft and tender. Add pineapple sauce and continue to cook about 5 minutes, until it begins to caramelize & reduce. Add jalapeno jelly and continue cooking until jelly has melted into the sauce, stirring occasionally. Add grapefruit balsamic and stir until blended. Add water and stir occasionally, until simmering. Add cornstarch and cook until sauce begins to thicken. Finish with sriracha, stirring well. Serve on side or beneath arancini.

Enjoy!

**There are a couple of things I learned from this recipe...if I can make the arancini, refrigerate and then re-form before frying, that would be ideal. I'm also planning on cooking the risotto in coconut milk made from the flakes to bump up the flavor. There's a tutorial on the Tropical Traditions coconut flakes page that shows you how to make the coconut milk!

I'm very pleased with the extra crunch and coconut flavor the ground coconut flakes added, I will definitely do that again!

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