Ever scroll through Instagram and stumble on a recipe that you have to make, like, now? This was that recipe for me as I watched Chris Morocco of Bon Appetit make this coconut chili crisp to top a crispy skinned salmon with a citrus salad. I immediately made my way to Trader Joe’s to pick up the ingredients and got to work with making this recipe.
While I’ve been known to make a crispy-skinned salmon on a pretty regular basis and as it’s peak citrus season have had many types of oranges on rotation in my household recently, those two components of the recipe were great, but didn’t immediately wow me. What did totally impress me was the coconut chili crisp that was used to top the salmon and the citrus – like, insert brain exploding emoji here. This stuff is so good. Crispy, sweet, spicy, ginger-y, coconut-y, richly toasted – imagine a super spicy coating for coconut shrimp (which this would actually be amazing for). This topping came together so well, and I’ve been putting the leftovers on everything and anything I could find.
I altered Chris Morocco’s version a little bit to suit what I had in my house, so I’ll share my recipe below. In addition, I’ll post the original recipe here and below to allow credit for the major inspiration. I used a big handful of Thai Dragon chilis from my garden and sweetened coconut instead of the Fresno chilis, unsweetened coconut, and peanuts called for in the original recipe. I think this would also work really well with a big spoonful of my Thai Dragon Chili Paste in the mix if you have that on hand, and could even work with milder peppers like jalapenos or even sweet peppers if spice is not your scene. I personally liked the sweet/spicy contrast that the sweetened coconut brought to the mix, but if you’re looking for something more nutty, savory, or simply cutting back on the sugar, go the unsweetened coconut route. Mix and match it how you like, make the original version or make my version, as long as you’re giving toasted coconut in your chili crisp a try, it’s all good to me!
My recipe down below, photo up top!
Recipe: Coconut Chili Crisp
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- ½ cup Thai Dragon chilis
- ¼ cup fresh ginger (about 1 3-4 inch knob)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- Wash and thoroughly dry your peppers. Remove the top (stem) ends from the Thai Dragon chilis using either a knife or scissors. Remove the seeds if you want the resulting chili crisp to be a little less spicy, or keep them in if you’re okay with the heat.
- Chop the ginger into large chunks. Place the ginger and the Thai Dragon chilis into a small food processor, and pulse until roughly chopped and the chilis and the ginger form a chunky paste.
- Heat the canola oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat for about 30 seconds, and add the chili and ginger paste into the hot oil. Stir to combine and allow the chilis and ginger to roast until fragrant and slightly golden, about 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- While the chilis and the ginger are toasting, add the coconut flakes to the food processer, and pulse 2-3 times to make the pieces smaller (you still want plenty of chunks, not going for a fine powder here. Aiming for small but still individual pieces).
- Once the chilis and ginger have started to become toasted, add the chopped coconut to the pan and stir to combine. Continue stirring the mixture and watch as the coconut begins to toast and turn golden brown. Once the coconut reaches a nice golden brown color, remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring until a darker golden brown color is reached. Remove the chili crisp from the pan onto a heat-proof surface (such as a ceramic bowl or plate) and allow to cool completely.
- Serve immediately as a spicy topper for fish or veggies, or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for use throughout the week. This will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks or so, but use quickly to maintain optimal freshness.