Babyface has a “thing” for sweet foods. He rarely dislikes food I make, but on those rare occasions, his complaint is almost always, “it isn’t sweet enough.” I don’t care if we are talking about cookies or chicken, it all needs to have an element of sweetness to satisfy his tastebuds.
Now contrast that with me. Almost every recipe that crosses my countertop gets it’s sugar content cut dramatically. I definitely have a sweet tooth, but I’d rather my sweet tooth be satisfied in controlled and well-balanced doses. And I also have one heck of a “spicy tooth” that loves foods that are sharp, spicy and savory, without much sugar content at all.
Needless to say, it has taken quite a few years to perfect dishes that happily satisfy both of us. As with anything in a good marriage, we’ve met in the middle. I’ve toned down my use of hot peppers. And he no longer requests that I add more sugar to the pizza dough recipe.
Of all of our culinary compromises, this coconut chicken may be the pièce de résistance. For Babyface, it is breaded in naturally sweet coconut flakes. For me, it is seasoned with pepper and dipped in a slighty-spicy sweet chili sauce.
These chicken strips are kinda like us a couple—contrasting, yet totally complementary.
Also, to satisfy both of us, they are baked, not fried. Finishing off the strips with a spray of olive oil helps them crisp up in the oven just like they would in the frying pan, but without all the fat.
You might be tempted to skip the sweet chili sauce, but I promise you, it is worth it! You can find sweet chili sauce at most major grocery stores in the international food section.
Baked Coconut Chicken Strips
Inspired by Budget Bites
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- White flour
- 2 eggs
- Splash of milk
- Salt and Pepper
- Equal parts unsweetened coconut and panko bread crumbs
- Olive oil spray (can sub other cooking spray)
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Place chicken breasts in a large zip-top bag and pound down to about 1/2″ thickness. Slice into 3/4″ strips.
- Mix panko and coconut in one bowl, season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and splash of milk. In a third bowl, add the flour.
- Dredge the chicken strips starting in the flour, then the egg mixture and then ending by pressing into the coconut/panko mixture. Lay onto a greased baking sheet. Spritz tops of strips with olive oil spray.
- Bake 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time, or until cooked through. Serve with sweet chili sauce to dip.