February 1, 2017 11:22:17 AM
Recently I did a cooking demonstration for a local garden club and after that, hosted five friends for a long weekend. I ended up with odds and ends in my refrigerator and pantry and looked for ways to use them up. I had made a carrot and ginger soup using coconut milk and had several cans left. (As usual, I over-bought.) I have used it before to make soup, as well as substituting it for water when making rice. I have also made a red curry with shrimp once or twice. I love the creaminess of it and as it isn't dairy, it will freeze better in soups or other dishes than dairy cream will.
Coconut milk is made from fresh shredded coconut that is simmered in water then strained to form a rich, creamy liquid. Do not use "lite" or light coconut milk as is has little coconut oil and little flavor. And do not get confused and buy coconut cream which is sweetened and only good for a tropical drink with an umbrella. Coconut water is the juice inside a fresh coconut and cannot be substituted for the milk product. Coconut milk in the can is available at most grocery stores on the Asian aisle, and certainly in any Asian food store.
As I did some reading for this column I came across something that sounded so good as a dessert topping -- whipped coconut milk. I have not done this, but I'm picturing it on top of a flan or coconut pie. The recipe is below, along with a recipe for a breakfast idea, a soup and a curry dish. The shrimp curry is from my friend Nancie McDermott's cookbook, "Quick & Easy Thai." Nancie has written 10 (or more) cookbooks, including "Southern Soups & Stews," "Southern Cakes" and "Southern Pies" as well as several on various Asian cuisines. They make very nice gifts, especially when grouped together.
WHIPPED COCONUT MILK
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar or more, to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla or more, to taste (optional)
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
COCONUT, SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (peeled, if desired), cut into a 1/2-inch dice
3 cups corn (6 ears fresh or 16-ounces frozen)
1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and black pepper
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
RED SHRIMP CURRY WITH PINEAPPLE
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk, thick top part mixed with watery base until combined
2 tablespoons goeng kua curry paste (check in an Asian supermarket) or red curry paste
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup drained canned pineapple chunks or crushed pineapple or bite-sized chunks fresh pineapple
6 wild lime leaves, quartered (optional)
1/4 pound large shrimp
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, plus basil sprigs for garnish.
(Source: Nancie McDermott, "Quick & Easy Thai")