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For a quick and delicious Chinese dinner, try this healthier version of honey walnut coconut shrimp. Pan-fried to perfection, each bite is complemented by a luscious honey coconut sauce and garnished with crunchy sesame walnuts.
What makes this dish special
I still remember my first dinner date with my husband. He took me to a small Chinese restaurant and ordered many delicious dishes, including honey walnut shrimp. I never had honey walnut shrimp until that night, and boy, did I love it. It's a simple dish, just stir-fried shrimp with walnuts. But the crispy battered seafood coated in a sweet sauce was so satisfying. It was memorable enough that now I always crave the dish. In honor of the original dish, I put my own "healthier" twist on to create honey walnut coconut shrimp. It's different from the original recipe but still equally delicious!
- Walnuts: Walnuts add a delightful crunch and nutty flavor to the dish. When toasted and coated with honey and sesame seeds, they provide a sweet and savory contrast to the shrimp. If you dislike walnuts, you can use cashews, peanuts, or pecans instead.
- Sesame seeds: The small seeds add extra crunch to the candied walnuts. You can omit sesame seeds if you dislike them.
- Coconut cream: Use coconut cream and not coconut milk for the best texture, adding a creamy element to the shrimp sauce.
- Mayonnaise: The thick condiment is the base for the sauce, adding creaminess while binding the ingredients together.
- Honey: Sweetens the sauce, replacing the sweetness from condensed milk that is in the original dish.
- Shrimp: The shellfish is the star of the dish. Use large, peeled and deveined shrimp for the best results. You can also experiment with the recipe and try it with chicken or another type of seafood such as scallops or white fish.
- Cornstarch: Used to coat the shrimp before frying, creating a crispy exterior when cooked.
How to make honey coconut walnut shrimp
Step 1: Make candied walnuts
The original honey walnut shrimp requires you to fry shrimp and toss it in a mayonnaise and condensed milk sauce with candied walnuts. When I first discovered that there was condensed milk in the dish, I gasped. It was no wonder the shrimp was so good! But this realization also made me think twice about regularly ordering the shrimp. And so, here we are, vamping up the seafood to make it healthier.
To make this honey walnut coconut shrimp, first, make the walnuts. I added sesame to the mix to make it a little fancy. Simmer the toasted walnuts in a medium saucepan with sugar and water, stirring until all of the liquid has evaporated.
Add the sesame seeds, tossing to coat. Then, immediately transfer the nuts to parchment paper, spread them out, and let them cool. You can also make the nuts the day before and store them in an air-tight container at room temperature.
Step 2: Prepare shrimp
Next, make the coconut sauce. To make this recipe healthier, I swapped out the condensed milk for coconut cream and decreased the amount of mayonnaise. Whisk the two together with a touch of honey and set it aside.
Although mayonnaise is still not the healthiest ingredient, I found that it was still the best choice for the dish, providing the creamy, thick base for the sauce.
Now for the shrimp. Combine cornstarch and salt in a large ziploc bag, tossing to combine. Pat dry the shrimp and add it to the cornstarch mix, tossing to coat. You can coat the shrimp in a bowl instead but I found the ziploc method to be the easiest one.
Step 3: Cook shrimp
Instead of deep-frying, we're going to pan-fry the shrimp. Depending on the size of your saute pan, you may need to cook the shrimp in 2 batches.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil on high heat and cook them until pink on both sides. Remove the shrimp and repeat with the remaining seafood.
Then toss the shrimp in the honey coconut sauce. Top with the sesame walnuts, sprinkle chopped scallions and serve with a bowl of rice.
So what is the verdict on this honey walnut coconut shrimp? I'll be frank, it's not like the original honey walnut shrimp. It doesn't have that rich mayo-condensed milk sauce that coats your mouth BUT the honey and coconut sauce works beautifully with the lightly battered shrimp. Plus, the sesame walnuts add that sweetness, complementing the shrimp perfectly. I would gladly eat this any day over the original recipe!
Frequently asked questions
Make sure that you cook the walnuts in the simple syrup until all of the liquid has evaporated. This is a key step in ensuring that the walnuts will be crunchy once cooled.
Yes, you can substitute walnuts with other nuts like peanuts or cashews if preferred. Adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Yes, you can use frozen shrimp, but make sure to thaw them completely and pat them dry before coating them with cornstarch. Adjust the cooking time as needed.
More easy stir-fry recipes
Looking for more quick stir-fry dishes? Try these:
Honey Walnut Coconut Shrimp
- ½ cup walnut halves toasted
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds toasted
Honey walnut coconut shrimp
- ¼ cup coconut cream
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 lb large shrimp deveined, peeled
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup oil divided
- chopped scallions for garnish
- Make sesame walnuts. Heat water and sugar in a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for 3 minutes or slightly reduced, stirring occasionally. Add walnuts and continue to cook until all of the liquid has evaporated about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add sesame seeds, tossing to combine. Spread nuts on parchment paper making sure they're not touching each other. Let cool completely.
- Make coconut sauce. Whisk together coconut cream with mayonnaise and honey. Set aside.
- Prepare shrimp. Combine cornstarch and salt in a large ziploc bag. Add shrimp and toss to coat shrimp.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saute pan over high heat. Add half of the shrimp and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip shrimp and continue to cook until done. Remove from heat and cook remaining shrimp.
- Immediately toss shrimp with coconut sauce and top with candied sesame walnuts and chopped scallions. Serve immediately.