Crispy Coconut Tempeh

Crispy Coconut Tempeh

This plant-based spin on coconut shrimp uses crumbled tempeh instead of shrimp. A mixture of coconut milk, sambal oelek, cornstarch and honey (substitute agave nectar to make it vegan) helps shredded coconut and panko stick to the tempeh, then the little nuggets fry up light, crispy and coconut-y through and through. A dusting of lime salt gives these a little spark (like the salted rim on a cocktail), and of course there’s a dipping sauce. Coconut shrimp is typically served with sweet chile sauce, but here, just use more of the sweet, spicy coconut milk. To make these tempeh nuggets a meal, serve with grains, sautéed greens like kale or spinach, or rice noodles. To get vegetarian recipes like this one delivered to your inbox, sign up for The Veggie newsletter.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    In a medium bowl, stir together the shredded coconut and the panko. Season with salt. In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons salt and the lime zest. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until you smell lime.
  2. Step 2

    In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, add the coconut milk, sambal oelek and honey, and stir with a fork to combine. Season to taste with salt. Transfer 1/2 cup of the coconut milk mixture (about a third) to a medium bowl. Add the cornstarch and stir with a fork to combine. To the remaining coconut milk in the small bowl, add the lime juice. This is your dipping sauce; set aside until ready to serve.
  3. Step 3

    Heat ¼ inch oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium. Working in batches, coat the tempeh in the cornstarch-coconut milk mixture, then coat all sides in the coconut-panko mixture, pressing firmly to adhere. Drop a pinch of coconut-panko in the skillet; if it sizzles and browns, the oil’s ready. Add the tempeh and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle with the lime salt. Repeat with the remaining tempeh.
  4. Step 4

    Eat right away with the coconut milk-lime dipping sauce.