I’ve been wanting to cook this coconut chicken for a LONG time and my anticipation was definitely justified by the end result. The shredded coconut mixed with panko bread crumbs gives a light, crunchy crust and adding a little bit of coconut milk to the egg wash ensures an even stronger coconut flavor. If you don’t have coconut milk on hand, it can be made without but it definitely makes a difference. You might be tempted to skip the sweet chili dipping sauce but it really brings a lot of flavor to the table so get some if you can! If you prefer a healthier version, I have seen recipes that bake the breaded chicken instead of frying it. I’ve never tried it but I bet it’s still tasty! If you bake yours instead of frying, let me know how it turns out (in the comments section so everyone can see)!
Coconut Chicken with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Coconut Chicken w/ Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
These tender, savory Coconut Chicken Strips are perfect for dipping in a sweet and spicy chili sauce. Bake or fry, you choose!
Cut off any extra fat globules from your chicken breasts. Cut each breast into 6 strips, diagonally to prevent the end strips from being really short. See photos below.
Prepare your breading station by gathering three bowls. In the first bowl combine the flour and salt. In the second bowl, combine the eggs and coconut milk. Whisk together until well combined. In the third bowl, stir together the panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut.
Place 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large heavy duty skillet and heat over medium/high heat until it is just below smoking. You can test the heat by throwing in a little bit of flour. When it is hot enough, the flour will sizzle and create a lot of bubbles.
While the oil is heating, dredge the chicken strips. First, coat each strip in the flour and salt mixture. Then dip each into the eggs/coconut milk and finally coat each in panko and shredded coconut. I find it easiest to coat all of them in the flour then go back and then do the egg wash and panko/coconut for each before moving onto the next.
After breading the strips, the oil should be hot enough. Place about 6 strips in the pan at once. There should only be one layer in the pan and there should be about an inch between each strip. If you over crowd the pan it will get too cold and the strips will soak up a lot of oil instead of frying. Fry the strips for 2-3 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown and crispy. Place them on a plate with paper towel to drain and move on to the next batch. After a couple of batches you may need more oil so you can add the second 1/4 cup to the pan. Allow the oil to come up to temperature before frying the next batch (2-3 minutes). Because the strips are thin, they should be cooked through by the time both sides are browned. You can tell by the texture of the chicken; it should be stiff when pressed. If you cut your strips thicker, you will need to bake off the chicken after frying to make sure the insides are cooked through.
When all of the strips are done frying, serve immediately with sweet chili sauce to dip in. I garnished mine with a little bit of chopped cilantro.
Step By Step Photos
I only made two breasts worth today…
Cut each breast into six strips, diagonally.
Set up your dredging station with three bowls: flour/salt, egg/coconut milk and panko/coconut.
Coat each chicken strip in flour, egg then panko/coconut. When they’re coated they will look like this. Now they’re ready to fry!
Fry each strip for 2-3 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown and crispy.
Drain the coconut chicken on paper towel to absorb the extra oil.
NOTE: Make sure to buy your boneless, skinless chicken breast in value pack sized containers. Buying this way you can save $1 or more per pound! I bought these as part of a 10 lb. pack for $1.98 per pound. When I got home, I packaged the breasts two per bag and froze them. That way I can take out the quantity I need when I’m ready to cook.
One thing I wish I had done differently with this recipe is to put the coconut into a food processor prior to mixing with the panko crumbs. I feel like if they coconut had been in slightly smaller bits, it would have adhered and covered the chicken more completely. I would have just pulsed the coconut in the processor a couple of times to make the bits about half their size.
If you can’t find panko crumbs, you can use regular bread crumbs, although the breading will be much more dense. You can also try crushing some rice chex as they are a similar texture to panko (another helpful hint from the handsome fish monger!).
As I mentioned, the sweet chili sauce is a huge part of what makes this dish delicious. I have found sweet chili sauce at major grocery stores in the Asian section. Check around because it’s pretty popular. Once you open the bottle it should stay good in your refrigerator for quite some time and it’s good on A LOT of stuff so don’t worry about the rest of the bottle going to waste!