The Real Food Wednesday topic this week is healthy coconut recipes. When I was a kid I thought I didn't like the taste of coconut, but it turns out that it's actually the texture of coconut flakes that I don't like. Since discovering coconut milk and coconut oil I have come to really love the flavor of coconuts. I use it for lots of things in my kitchen (which I will share with you here) but, as any of you who have read my blog before know, my all time favorite recipe with coconut in it is - yup, you guessed it. Thai Yellow Curry. Today I'll share with you my two home made thai yellow curry recipes. Both are delicious.
For more information on why coconut is so healthful (and it is) check out these links.
The Weston A Price Foundation article on coconut oil.
Bruce Fife's page on coconut - note, he sells coconut products. Not that his research is bad, just that he's got a reason for you to love the stuff.
Kelly the Kitchen Kop's blog on coconut.
Practical Nourishment - a blog I just found and intend to read often!
I always have coconut milk and coconut oil in my kitchen. I use expeller pressed coconut oil from Omega Nutrition anywhere I would use vegetable oil (which I don't use because it is so high in polyunsaturated fats which are not very healthy for you) because it can be heated to medium/high temperatures and doesn't add a coconutty flavor. Here are a few of my other favorite uses for coconut oil and milk.
*Coconut milk kefir. Just drop kefir grains in coconut milk for a sweet, sour, tangy non-dairy fermented treat. Kefir grains will not grow in coconut milk, but they survive just fine as long as they get switched back into dairy milk. SN of Everything Free Eating propogates kefir grains in dairy milk and then uses them in coconut milk until they die to make kefir for her dairy sensitive kids.
* Coconut oil mixed with butter on popcorn. Oooohhhmmmyyyyyyuuuummmmm. Yeah. It's that good.
* Coconut-chocolate bark made with coconut oil, cocoa powder or melted chocolate and chopped nuts. It's candy, and it's good for you, I swear. I've never added butter or peanut butter, but here's a recipe that is worth trying over at Practical Nourishment.
* Jamacian Beans and Rice. A one pot dish adapted from the recipe in Nourishing Traditions. So, so good!
* Sometimes I eat a spoonful of coconut oil off a spoon to tide me over until I can eat real food. It's amazing how well it works at staving off hunger.
And now onto the meat and potatoes, er, coconut milk and chicken. As you can see from my Mission: Yellow Curry PDX entries I love Thai yellow curry. I love how complex it is, and how filling and soothing. It's wonderful for a hang over, not that I know anything about that sort of thing. Amazingly, it's super easy to make at home as well. Remember, a curry is just a stew. Add what you have, subtract what you don't and adjust the amounts or consistency to suit your tastes or the number of folks you are feeding.
You do need one special ingredient to make Thai curry and that is Thai curry paste. Indian curry powder will not do. My favorite brand, and one that a friend who actually lived in Thailand used, is Mae Ploy. I buy it locally at an asian supermarket, but have seen it at other grocery stores in town. You can also get it here on Amazon. Or just google around, maybe some other, slightly less giant/evil corporation will ship it to your house. Mae Ploy makes other flavors of curry paste and all can be substituted for the yellow but the all have slightly different tastes. Yellow curry is the mildest as far as heat goes, so if you have gringo taste buds be careful!
This is the Thai curry that my friend Rosie taught me to make my freshman year of college. It changed my world. Maybe it will change yours as well.
Thai Curry at Home
* 1-2 tbs virgin coconut oil or flavorless cooking fat
* 1/2 -1 yellow onion, sliced or chopped coarsely
* 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
* minced ginger (I would use about 1 tbs minced, but if thats too much for you,use less)
* chile flakes (optional)
* 3 or 4 tbs Mae Ploy Thai Yellow Curry Paste
* 1 14 oz can coconut milk
* 2 cups water or chicken stock or a mix
* 2 tsp soy sauce
* 1-3 tsp Thai fish sauce
* 2 frozen chicken breasts or equivalent in cooked meat or cubed tofu (I don't recommend it, but that's how I was taught - it's your dinner :)
* approx 2 cups of any of the following, or a mix: yellow, red or purple potato or sweet potato, washed and chopped and/or chopped carrots and/or chopped eggplant or zucchini and/or cauliflower florets, green beans, frozen peas
* Fresh limes for juice
* a spoonful of brown sugar (very optional)
1. Melt fat in a largeish sauce pot (mine is probably 3 quarts.. not quite a soup pot) and add onions (and carrots if using). Rosie taught me to slice the onions longitudinally, and I still like to do it that way for curry. It doesn't really matter though. Cook over medium heat until transluscent. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant (add chile flakes now, but don't unless you know how spicy your curry paste is). Add curry paste to the cooked vegetables and mash, mix and fry until quite fragrant.
2. Add coconut milk and stir to combine paste in with the coconut milk. Add potatoes (sweet potatoes/cauliflower/other hard veggies or eggplant) and chicken (or tofu, or not) to the pot. Add soy sauce, fish sauce and chicken broth and water to barely cover the contents. You can use chicken broth or water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. Add soft vegetables like green beans, zucchini or frozen peas later in the cooking process so they don't get too mushy.
3. Add a little lime juice to the curry and taste for seasonings. Adding a little bit of brown sugar will mellow the heat a bit. Soy sauce will deepen the flavor. Hot sauce will up the heat. Serve over rice, and enjoy!
I've also made this thai curry recipe from A Year of Crockpotting in my Rival crock pot. I used Mae Ploy curry paste instead of the chili paste it calls for and it was delicious. Here's my write up over at Recipezaar. In any of these recipes you can adjust the amount of hot sauce or chile flakes, curry paste, sugar, soy sauce or fish sauce to your own tastes. I've taken to adding a little bit of turmeric to the sauce too, to counteract the dulling effect of the soy sauce on the color of the curry. Oh, and some places add basil or cilantro to their curry. You might like that.
Coconut milk and oil are amazingly tasty and healthful food products. It is worth perfecting a few recipes to get those healthful products into your repertoire. And pretty soon you'll be sneaking spoonfuls of coconut oil late at night like the rest of us.
P.S. My lunchbox is a Laptop Lunchbox (www.laptoplunches.com). You can see more of my photos by clicking on the photos and viewing my flickr streams.