Presque sur les îles – Crevettes sur lit de patates douces grillées et épinards, sauce vanille, citron vert et lait de coco

It’s seems like a long time since I prepared a savory dish with coconut or vanilla, but lately I have been thinking about vanilla and spices, so I guess I am ready to take a little vacation in the tropics. Anytime summer comes, I just want to pack my bags and go somewhere. My yearly trips to France are not really a vacation, it’s more like family time with everything that it implies. Going home to the city I grew up in is always a great pleasure, but does not make me feel I am on vacation. I think I want to go in a country where I don’t understand the language and feel completely “depaysée” (in a new world), discover new flavors, scents and feel new emotions.

My friend Laurent offered me a book called “La Bonne Cuisine Végétarienne de Babette“, a wonderful vegetarian book written by a French Créole chef, Babette De Rozières, where she presents recipes with a créole flair using tropical ingredients. Her cuisine if full of colors, sunny and vibrant like the islands. After I finished reading that book, I just wanted vanilla…everything needed to be vanilla.

Vanilla blends well with fish and poultry too, one aspect of vanilla is that it’s very delicate, and not strong nor overpowering, unless of course you use a lot of it. It’s better not to add too many other spices or flavors with vanilla, because it’s so delicate that strong spices will kill it subtle flavor.

You can substitute the spinach with some more exotic greens and use yams instead of the sweet potatoes. I used sweet potatoes and coconut, to complete the dish, and I really liked it. It’s fast to prepare as well, so nothing to complain about. Depending on the length of your vanilla beans and size of your shrimps, you might add more than two shrimps on the vanilla bean. My shrimps were quite large so only two fitted.

Ingredients for 4

For the shrimps marinade

  • 12 shrimps
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • 4 vanilla beans
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the spinach

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 1 lb baby spinach
  • salt and pepper

For the potatoes

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced 1 cm thick
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the sauce

  • 1.5 tsp butter
  • the rest of the marinade
  • 1/2 tsp cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2-3 tbs coconut milk


Place two or three shrimps in the vanilla bean. Mix all the ingredients of the marinade and pour on top of the shrimps. Place in a container and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Coat potato slices with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and broil in the oven until tender in the middle and golden brown on the outside. Keep warm.

Heat olive oil in a large pot, add shallot, let it sweat, then spinach, salt and pepper and keep stirring at high heat until wilted.

Melt butter in a pan. Add shrimps (removing excess marinade) and let them cook at medium heat, add marinade, stir well. Remove shrimps. Deglaze with vinegar, add honey and coconut milk. Let the sauce reduce a little.

Place two slices of potatoes in a place,  top them with spinach, then shrimps. Spoon sauce on top and serve hot.