Cooking With Coconut Milk: 7 Recipes That Star the Creamy Goodness

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People are going nutty over coconut milk. Whether you attribute coconut milk’s newfound popularity to the paleo diet craze, the push to go dairy-free, or the simple desire to change it up in the taste department, it’s indisputable that more and more consumers are now cracking open the canned liquid that comes from the grated meat of a brown coconut, and after you get one taste of the creamy goodness, you may understand why.

Coconut milk can be incorporated into a variety of dishes, but it most commonly finds its way into savory Asian-inspired meals, sweet treats, and more. The dairy substitute helps gives Thai food its iconic taste, stands in for milk and cream in indulgent desserts, and also does a good job of upping the flavor of any typical dish thanks to its buttery coconut kick.

We know not all trendy food items are as cool as their reputation boasts, but coconut milk is one popular item that you should consider trying. The canned dairy substitute is cheap, non-perishable, and easy to find. Incorporate it into one of these seven outlined recipes and see if you’ve been convinced to get crazy about coconut milk.

1. Thai Green Coconut Curry

Starting out savory, we come to this Thai Green Coconut Curry from The KitchnWe told you coconut milk typically stars in meals that boast a Thai flare. The recipe developer behind this dish promises that it can come together in 3o minutes or less, and deliver an Asian-inspired taste explosion in your mouth. The coconut milk gives this curry a rich, buttery taste, and perfectly complements the green curry paste, sugar, and soy sauce also used. Don’t be fooled that curry can only be perfected in a chef’s kitchen. This recipe proves that anyone is capable of mastering the Thai favorite, especially when you’re armed with coconut milk.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound zucchini
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
  • 8 ounces frozen cuttlefish balls (optional)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 to 4 ounces Thai green curry paste, such as Maesri
  • 2 cans good quality coconut milk, such as Chaokoh
  • Fish sauce, to taste
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Soy sauce, to taste

Directions: Chop the zucchini into 1/2-inch-wide half moons (cut these in half if the zucchini is very large) and set them aside. Cut the chicken into even, bite-sized chunks about 1-inch long and set aside. Run warm water over the package of cuttlefish balls to soften them. Open the cans of coconut milk and set them to the side.

Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a 4-quart (or larger) Dutch oven or heavy pot set over medium-high heat, and when the oil is hot, add the curry paste. (For a fully tongue-tingling experience, use the full 4-ounce can. If you have a lower tolerance for heat, use half the can.) Fry the paste for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Scoop the thickened coconut solids out of both cans of coconut milk, leaving the watery milk below. Fry this for about 2 minutes with the curry paste, too, until the oil starts to separate out, forming beads on top of the curry paste. Add the chicken pieces and sauté for about 1 minute.

Add the rest of the coconut milk. Add the fish balls if you’re using them. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the fish balls are warm — about 10 minutes. When the chicken is done, add the zucchini and simmer just until they’re tender. Taste and adjust seasonings with fish sauce, sugar, and soy sauce until it is balanced enough for your tastes. Serve with rice or rice noodles. This keeps well, freezes well, and does great made the night before and heated up the next day.