Coconut milk is highly versatile and highly delicious. Smooth, creamy, and subtle in flavor, it compliments heat-packed ingredients (chipotle peppers, really any kinds of peppers), adding richness and depth. Conversely, coconut milk is delightful in dessert–namely in smoothies, blended with frozen fruit and some sweetening agent (I’m hooked on agave nectar, and sugar packets I steal from coffee shops). Coconut-milk based smoothies are delicious and only requires the cooking-savy/effort of a toddler who has mastered putting shaped blocks into their corresponding shaped holes.
But I’m more interested in coconut milk’s savory possibilities. So here are three savory things I made with coconut milk this weekend!
1) Butternut Squash Mock-Curry (get it? Mock-curry sounds like mockery and has the word curry in it!). This is not a real curry, but it almost tastes like one and contains most of a standard Thai curry’s ingredients. Here’s what you do. Sautée some thinly sliced onion and diced red bell pepper in peanut oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add cubed butternut squash (as lil cubes as you have the patience for!) and a spoonful of Thai red curry paste—you can control the heat here. Give that a stir. After things start cookin’, slowly add about ¾ cup of coconut milk, in splash increments, letting the squash absorb a substantial amount before you add more. Add more coconut milk depending on consistency you like, and let simmer until squash is tender. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over it. Top with crushed peanuts. Eat by putting it in your mouth, chewing, swallowing. If you have any leftover rice from last week’s Chinese takeout, eat it with that.
2) Spicy-Sweet Potato Flake Wings. Ok, this one’s going to sound crazy, so prepare yourselves emotionally for these sweet-smoky-spicy chicken wings coated in crispy mashed potato flakes. THAT’S RIGHT, MASHED POTATO FLAKES, from a box. Alright, so first, in a blender, mix about half a cup of coconut milk with as many chipotle in adobo (canned peppers) as you like/ can handle. Splash in about 3 tbsp of maple syrup, some lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Marinate about a pound of chicken wings in this sauce, reserving a bit of the sauce for later. After a few hours, dredge chicken wings in MASHED POTATO FLAKES, then put on a foil-lined, pam-sprayed sheet pan. Drizzle with leftover sauce. Cook at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes, until crispy and juices run clear. Eat with celery to feel better about yourself.
3) Coconut Milk Dressing. Because sometimes you need to eat salad, and here’s just the dressing to mask all that salad-y, leafy flavor. In a blender or food processer, blend about ½ cup coconut milk (low fat if you hate yourself), juice of half a lime, salt, and some chopped scallions. If you’re feeling crazy, put in a splash of fish sauce. DONE.