Photos by Emily Caruso
If you've ever undertaken a long distance move, you're undoubtedly familiar with the last minute rush to use up the stash of food you've accumulated in your refrigerator and pantry. There's a whole lot of that happening in my house right now because we're moving next week and there's still so much food. So much food! How did we get this much food? Where did that wedge of brie come from? Why do we have a jar of bread and butter pickles in the pantry? And then you have brie and pickle sandwiches for dinner and lament what your life has become.
This recipe was also born out of the need to use things up, but luckily for you, it turned out a lot better than the brie and pickle sandwiches, which we shall never speak of again. I had a big bag of shredded coconut in the pantry, along with panko, honey, sriracha, and rice vinegar, so I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to make these Crispy Baked Coconut Onion Rings. I got the idea from a restaurant in Raleigh called The Cowfish, which has both sushi and burgers. (And pretty amazing veggie burgers, I might add.)
These onion rings are super crispy and just slightly coconutty--the shredded coconut adds a hint of toasted coconut flavor, but it doesn't overpower the flavor of the sweet onion. It's always a little bit of a pain to bread vegetables, but like childbirth, you forget about all the pain once you've got a big plate of onion rings to dig into. Or something.
No onion rings would be complete without a good dipping sauce and since these onion rings are Asian-inspired, they call for a good Asian sauce. You can use bottled sweet chili sauce, but Ashley's honey-based sweet chili sauce is completely worth taking the time to whip up. Store-bought sweet chili sauce tends to be a little more mild than I like, but when you make it yourself, you can add more or less heat to customize it to your own tastes.
- Preheat oven to 450ºF. Place oven-safe wire racks on two baking sheets and spray them with oil.*
- Whisk together the flour and paprika in a shallow bowl or dish. In another dish, whisk the milk and egg. In a third dish, combine the panko, coconut, and salt.
- Break the onion slices into individual rings. Dredge each ring in the flour mixture, then dip it in the milk mixture, and then press it into the panko mixture, making sure to coat all sides. Place the breaded ring onto one of the wire racks, and repeat until all the rings are coated. (To save space, put the smaller rings inside the larger ones on the racks.)
- Once all the rings are coated, spray them with oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating sheets after 10 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
Sweet Chili Sauce
- Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl.