Nilsson Schmilsson Coconut Shrimp





The late Harry Nilsson was one of the greatest American songwriters in rock history.  From the late sixties to the early eighties he wrote some of the best songs of the era and yet still many people don’t have a clue who he was.  Mariah Carey’s cover of his big hit Without You, also from the Nilsson Schmilsson classic album, may be the closest the younger generations can relate.  But it is another track, Coconut, where we draw our inspiration for this week’s entry.  A lot of you may remember the oft-repeated, vintage lyric, “She put the lime in the coconut and drank it all up”, from this song.  That is just what we are going to do with our recipe.

In reality lime and coconut is nothing new to a lot of regional cuisine especially in Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and other tropical places.  Most establishments serve Coconut Shrimp fried but as I’ve already indicated I am not a big fan of most fried seafood and that’s not what we will be doing here.  Our recipe has a lot of connections to Thai Cuisine but I’ve westernized it a bit.  It’s a fitting tribute to the legend of Harry Nilsson who liked to blend a lot of different styles into his somewhat unusual brand of music.  So, give a listen and a taste.





3 TBSP Olive Oil, divided

1 TBSP Coconut Oil

1 lb. Jumbo Shrimp (16-20 ct.) peeled and deveined

Salt, to taste

Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste

1 medium Onion sliced

1 small Green Bell Pepper sliced

1 small Red Bell Pepper sliced

½ TBSP finely chopped Garlic

½ TBSP finely chopped fresh Ginger Root peeled

1 small Serrano Chili Pepper seeded and finely chopped

Zest of 1 Lime

1 15 oz. can Unsweetened Coconut Milk

¼ cup Dark Brown Sugar

2 TBSP Thai or Vietnamese style Fish Sauce

Juice of 1 Lime

2 TBSP chopped fresh Cilantro



  1. Heat 1 TBSP Olive Oil and the Coconut Oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium high heat
  2. Add the Shrimp and season well with Salt and Pepper. Fry till pink on the outside.  About 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove Shrimp from wok and let rest in a bowl or on a plate.
  3. In the same wok or pan heat the remaining 2 TBSP Olive Oil over medium heat
  4. Add the Onion and the Green and Red Pepper and fry for about 5 minutes until tender
  5. Add the Garlic, Ginger, Serrano Pepper, and Lime Zest and fry for about 2 minutes longer
  6. Shake the can of Coconut Milk well before adding to the wok so the cream and clear liquid mix well together. Add the Coconut Milk to the wok and increase the heat to medium high.  Stir for a minute or two.
  7. Add the Sugar, Fish Sauce, and Lime Juice and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
  8. When the sauce is thickened to the level of your preference add the Shrimp back to the wok and heat through for about 2 minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and garnish with the Cilantro.


Serve over cooked Jasmine Rice.  You can also add fresh vegetables to this recipe if you like.  Some suggestions would be; zucchini, green beans, broccoli, snow peas, and/or corn


WINE PAIRING:  You will hear this a lot from me but this recipe is tailor made for Sauvignon Blanc.  I would recommend any from the Marlborough region in New Zealand as the top choice.  Shrimp, coconut, lime, and spices are the perfect marriage for this versatile grape varietal.  You will often see dishes like this one include some curry pastes or powders which are also a great match for Sauvignon Blanc.

Author: Steve Melchior

I am a lover of many eclectic things; food, wine, art, music, travel, sports, movies, literature and of course The Grateful Dead. I combine all these interests into great ideas for food preparation and entertaining with friends and family.

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