Shrimp is one of those freezer staples that you shouldn’t let hang around in your freezer for too long.
Shrimp are even more susceptible to freezer burn than other kinds of protein because they have a lot of surface area and are full of water. They are also easy to over-defrost in the microwave, which leads to tough shrimp before you’ve even started cooking them. (The best way to defrost them is a quick soak in a bowl of water in the sink.)
So, if you’re craving shrimp and are looking for a new way to cook them, here are a couple of paleo- and keto-friendly ideas. Those two specialty diets have a lot in common, but here’s a refresher if you’re wondering: Keto and paleo are both centered around eating healthy fats, nonstarchy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Keto allows dairy and sugar-free sweeteners, while paleo folks are more generous with natural sweeteners, fruits and starchy vegetables. Neither diet allows grains and legumes, so they are gluten-free and often heavy on meat, eggs and seafood.
I’m not here to tell you to try either of these ways of eating. Both have as many critics as fans, and you shouldn’t change up your diet in such a significant way without consulting a medical professional. However, if you see a recipe that calls for pork rinds in the crust rather than breadcrumbs or coconut milk instead of heavy cream in an Italian sauce, now you know why.
Don’t care about gluten or dairy? Go ahead and use regular breadcrumbs and all-purpose flour in the coconut shrimp or heavy cream in the Tuscan shrimp, if you’d like. You can also use cornstarch instead of arrowroot as a thickener in the Tuscan shrimp. One last note: Ghee, though made from butter, is considered paleo-friendly because it has the casein and lactose removed.
Coconut Shrimp with Spicy Dipping Sauce
You may not consider shrimp, coconut and pork rinds to be obvious ingredients that go together, but in this recipe, they work beautifully. The shrimp stays especially nice and juicy because of the crisp outer coating, and the coconut flavor really comes through (without the need to resort to sweetened flakes) because of the coconut flour.
• 1 (2 1/2-ounce) bag pork rinds
• 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
• 3/4 cup coconut flour
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the spicy sriracha dip:
• 2 tablespoons sriracha
• Zest and juice of 1/2 lime
• 1 clove garlic, minced
Heat the air fryer to 390 degrees. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the pork rinds and coconut flakes. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
In another shallow bowl, combine the coconut flour, onion powder and garlic powder; mix until thoroughly combined. In a third shallow bowl, whisk the eggs until slightly frothy.
In a large bowl, season the shrimp with the salt and pepper, tossing gently to coat.
Working a few pieces at a time, dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, followed by the eggs, and finishing with the pork rind crumb mixture. Arrange the shrimp on a baking sheet until ready to air fry.
Working in batches if necessary, arrange the shrimp in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Pausing halfway through the cooking time to turn the shrimp, air fry for 8 minutes until cooked through.
To make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sriracha, lime zest and juice, and garlic. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Serve alongside the shrimp. Serves 4.
– From “Keto Kitchen: Air Fryer Cookbook: Over 100 Healthy Fried Recipes for the Ketogenic Diet” by Ella Sanders ($19.99, Castle Point Books)
Tuscan Shrimp with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach
This quick skillet meal combines tender shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach in a delicious sauce with Italian spices and lemon. It cooks quickly so you can have dinner on the table in 15 minutes. This is one of those meals that definitely doesn’t taste dairy-free, but it is! The lemon masks the flavor of the coconut milk, and the arrowroot slurry thickens it up nicely. I like to keep frozen shrimp in my freezer at all times, so I always have a quick last-minute meal option.
• 1 pound fresh or frozen and thawed shrimp (pre-peeled, deveined and tails removed)
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/3 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk (stir well before pouring)
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 2 tightly packed cups baby spinach
• 1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
• Cauliflower rice, for serving
Heat the ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until they are no longer translucent. Remove the shrimp and set them aside on a plate.
Add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes to the skillet and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the white wine and with a spoon scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the lemon juice, zest, coconut milk, salt and Italian seasoning.
Add the shrimp back to the skillet along with the spinach and stir. Mix the arrowroot powder and water together in a small bowl. Bring the skillet to a boil and add the arrowroot slurry. Stir while it thickens. This will happen quickly. Serve the shrimp over cauliflower rice. Serves 3 to 4.
– From “Quick Prep Paleo: Simple Whole-Food Meals with 5 to 15 Minutes of Hands-On Time” by Mary Smith (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)