Coconut milk is a great versatile ingredient that gives unique flavour, texture and consistency to so many dishes. Often it is just regarded as a component of Thai curries, but really it can be used to enhance or transform so many varying recipes with its deliciously subtle properties. Here are 8 ways to show it.
Creamy, mellow, but not sweet. Coconut milk is perfect to add to soup for a fresh, savoury taste without detracting from the flavours of the key ingredients. In this Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup recipe it enriches the lemongrass, lime, ginger and basil to form an incredibly fragrant and aromatic base for the juicy chicken.
In a sauce for mussels
We’ve all heard of mussels in cream or garlic sauce. However, coconut milk should not be overlooked as a staple ingredient when cooking mussels. It makes an incredible silky sauce without overpowering the delicious flavour of the mussels themselves. Try these Mussels in a Thai Coconut Sauce for a refreshing version of this classy dish.
In lentil dahl
Lentil dahl, adaptable and consistently tasty, should be a regular go-to recipe for every household. It can be made in so many different ways, but we think this South Indian Red Lentil Dahl recipe using coconut milk works best. The cashews and added coconut flakes give it a wonderful nutty undertone and creamy consistency, balancing out the spices.
In baking, coconut milk works in a similar way to buttermilk. Any cake with coconut milk will have an amazing moist sponge, without being too heavy. It works so well with light flavours like fruit and vanilla, or even plain. This Puna Yam Cake recipe is flourless but still has a beautiful crumb texture.
In a satay sauce
Coconut milk is the perfect ingredient for a satay sauce, as it supports the rich peanut taste without being too fatty and keeping a light consistency. Coconut milk is often associated with fish or chicken dishes, but this Pork Satay recipe will prove why it is such a variable, complimentary ingredient.
Let’s not forget that one of coconut milk’s great assets is that it tames the heat in very spicy dishes, bringing out the deepest flavour. It’s perfect in Laksa, fusing together the meat, noodles and spice in one smooth firey kick. Try our Chicken Laksa recipe and find out for yourself.
In fish pie
Coconut milk can be used as an alternative for cream in fish chowder or sauce for fish pie. It makes the finished product much lighter, and gives scope to bring in other flavours too, as Lorraine Pascale does here in her Thai Fish Pie recipe. Swap full-fat coconut milk for low-fat to make an even healthier meal.
Not just a blessing for savoury cooking, coconut milk can give the most velvety texture for desserts when a delicate and subtle finish is desired. It also prevents dessert and cake recipes from becoming too sickly, like in this Lemon Cake with Cardamom and Semolina recipe, where the naturally sweet flavours of lemons and cardamom shine through.
Words by Rosie Cassels, gin obsessed food fanatic, tasting London one cheese board at a time. @rozzlesmozzle