Tropical paradises top the list of Spring Break destinations year after year. The white sand beaches and clear, blue waters of tropical islands host millions of tourists, people craving relaxation and a slower pace. Most of us, however, will be hard-pressed to make it to nearby Port Aransas on a Saturday, much less travel to another country. If you find yourself knee-deep in work and responsibilities throughout the month of March, join me on a culinary staycation with these tropical recipes.
Add shredded coconut to local shrimp from Paul’s Seafood or Mom’s Bait Shop, paired with a sweet and tangy sauce of mango simmered in pineapple and lime juices. We use coconut oil for enriched taste and heart health.
Largely associated with Jamaican cuisine, though also common throughout the Caribbean, Jerk Beef Kabobs are tenderized in a sweet and spicy marinade of pineapple juice and jerk seasoning. The addition of tamarind pulp gives the skewers a slightly sour note to counter the sweet acidity of pineapple juice. Reserve some marinade for a final glaze on the kabobs, or to eat by the spoonful.
Transcend the monotony of the day-to-day with these tastes of the tropics — because even if we can’t leave the Coastal Bend for vacation this season, we can still eat like it.
Jerk Beef Kabobs With Tamarind Pineapple Glaze
Makes 6 large kabobs
Prep time: 10 minutes
Inactive time: 2-4 hours
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp jerk seasoning, divided
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb beef stew meat
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
- 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
- 1/2 red onion, cut into 1” pieces
Combine 1 tbsp tamarind pulp with 1/2 cup boiling water. Let sit for 5 minutes and stir. Sift into a medium-sized bowl with a fine sieve. Add pineapple juice, garlic, jerk seasoning and olive oil, and whisk to combine.
Place beef, peppers and onion into a large resealable plastic bag. Add marinade into a bag (reserving 1/2 cup of the marinade for later) and seal. Store in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, inverting the bag halfway through the storage time to ensure all parts of the kabobs are marinating.
Soak wooden skewers for about 30 minutes. Assemble the kabobs by threading the meat and vegetables onto the skewers.
Grill kabobs over high direct heat for 8-10 minutes, until medium rare to well done. Let sit for five minutes before brushing with the reserved marinade.
Coconut Shrimp With Mango Dipping Sauce
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 1/2 cups coconut oil
- 1 lb large shrimp, peeled, deveined with tails attached
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup shredded coconut flakes (sweetened or unsweetened)
Add coconut oil to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Set up a dredging station while oil preheats.
Prepare three shallow bowls with 1) flour, salt and pepper, 2) eggs, and 3) breadcrumbs and shredded coconut. Whisk the contents of each bowl until well combined. Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, then transfer to the bowl of eggs and flip the shrimp to evenly coat. Finally, transfer the battered shrimp to the breadcrumb/coconut mixture and toss to coat.
Working in batches, fry the shrimp in the hot coconut oil until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes each. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve shrimp immediately with mango dipping sauce.
Mango Dipping Sauce:
- 2 mangos, seeded and diced
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- Juice of 1 lime
- Large pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and mashing with the back of your spoon until mango is tender and mostly broken apart. Remove from heat and let cool before serving with prepared coconut shrimp.