Published On: Wed, Aug 16th, 2017

16 Coconut Recipes, Both Savory and Sweet


[Photographs: Yasmin Fahr, Vicky Wasik]

When I was a kid my mom would make chocolate coconut cake for special occasions, and ever since I’ve been hooked on coconut’s sweet, nutty flavor. It’s obviously great in desserts like cake and macaroons, but coconut can be used for so much more than that, from Thai curries to tropical cocktails. Whether you’re in the mood for a decadent triple coconut cake, mussels steamed in curry, or a piña colada made without any artificial flavorings, you’re sure to find something in our collection of 16 of our favorite coconut recipes.

Savory Dishes

Real-Deal Khao Soi Gai


[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Few cuisines make better use of coconut than that of Thailand. Coconut milk is a vital ingredient in a variety of curries, including the iconic noodle soup khao soi. The soup base is made with coconut milk and curry paste, which we prepare from scratch with chili, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, lime zest, turmeric, ginger, cilantro stalks, coriander seed, cardamom, and more.

Get the recipe for Real-Deal Khao Soi Gai »

Steamed Mussels With Thai-Style Coconut-Curry Broth


[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Beyond the fact that it’s super easy, we love steamed mussels because of how well the mollusks take to whatever flavors you throw at them. Here we look to central Thailand, cooking the mussels in a fragrant coconut curry broth. If you don’t shake the coconut milk before opening there should be a layer of coconut cream on top that is perfect for sautéing aromatics like garlic and shallots.

Get the recipe for Steamed Mussels With Thai-Style Coconut-Curry Broth »

Thai-Style Cod à la Nage With Coconut Milk, Lime, and Lemongrass


[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This recipe gives a Thai twist to another French dish—cod à la nage—with lemongrass, ginger, fresh chilies, and fish sauce. A traditional à la nage preparation will typically call for poaching the fish in wine, fish stock, or water, but we keep the Thai theme going by using coconut milk (which you can cut with water if you want to make the dish a little lighter).

Get the recipe for Thai-Style Cod à la Nage With Coconut Milk, Lime, and Lemongrass »

Vegan Peanut, Sweet Potato, and Kale Soup With Coconut


[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

This recipe, inspired by West African groundnut stew, is made with crushed peanuts, sweet potato, and kale. We thicken the soup with coconut milk, which is a traditional addition. Less traditional are Thai flavors like garlic, ginger, and chilies, but the coconut lets the African and Asian flavors mesh wonderfully.

Get the recipe for Vegan Peanut, Sweet Potato, and Kale Soup With Coconut »

Thai Red Coconut Curry Popcorn


[Photograph: Daniel Gritzer]

If you’re bored of buttered popcorn, we have lots of other flavors for you to try. For this Thai-inspired variation we toss the popcorn with a powder made of coconut, chili powder, lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, garlic, and ginger. The chili packs some serious heat, so we add in a little muscovado sugar for balance.

Get the recipe for Thai Red Coconut Curry Popcorn »

Coconut Curry Dipping Sauce


[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This dipping sauce starts with coconut milk and red curry paste, which we enhance with sweet honey, salty soy sauce, aromatic ginger, tart lime juice, and umami-rich fish sauce. Coming together in just five minutes, this sauce is a natural partner for frozen dumplings if you want an easy dinner.

Get the recipe for Coconut Curry Dipping Sauce »

Warm Kale and Curried Chicken Salad With Toasted Coconut and Dried Cherries


[Photograph: Yasmin Fahr]

There are a variety of ways to tenderize kale for a salad—here we opt to wilt the greens with the braising liquid used to cook curried chicken thighs. We shred the chicken, mix it with the kale, then top with coconut flakes and dried cherries for sweetness and textural contrast.

Get the recipe for Warm Kale and Curried Chicken Salad With Toasted Coconut and Dried Cherries »


Triple Coconut Cake


[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

If you’re going to make the ultimate coconut cake, using the star ingredient just one or two ways isn’t going to cut it. We put coconut into all three components of this cake: the frosting is made with coconut oil, the ganache is made with coconut milk, and the cake itself uses both of those ingredients and coconut flour.

Get the recipe for Triple Coconut Cake »

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice With Mango (Khao Niao Mamuang)


[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

There’s more to Thai food and coconut than curry—coconut milk is also the key ingredient in one of the classic desserts. You make it by soaking Thai sticky rice in coconut milk that has been sweetened with sugar and seasoned with salt, then serving the steamed rice with fragrant Ataúlfo mangoes and a thick coconut milk sauce.

Get the recipe for Thai Coconut Sticky Rice With Mango (Khao Niao Mamuang) »

The Best Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons


[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

These macaroons get their chewy interior, crispy exterior, and intensely coconut-y flavor from dried, unsweetened coconut that we toast in the microwave. Our recipe gives you two choices for sweetening—condensed milk is the most traditional option, but if you don’t mind the macaroons having an unconventional brown color then dulce de leche is even better.

Get the recipe for The Best Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons »

Vegan Coconut, Lime, and Rum Ice Cream


[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Packed with fat and protein, coconut milk and cream make for wonderfully rich vegan ice cream. Some of our recipes attempt to cover up the coconut with more traditional ice cream flavorings like mint chip, but this one embraces the tropical coconut by adding lime and dark rum.

Get the recipe for Vegan Coconut, Lime, and Rum Ice Cream »

Tropical Pineapple, Mango, and Coconut Fools


[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

These summery fools are made with whipped cream thickened with Greek yogurt and flavored with pineapple compote and sweetened shredded coconut, which we layer with fresh mango. I like the elegance of constructing the fools in individual glasses, but you can also make a family-style fool in a trifle dish.

Get the recipe for Tropical Pineapple, Mango, and Coconut Fools »


Coquito Smoothie


[Photograph: Autumn Giles]

The Puerto Rican punch coquito is usually made with plenty of booze, but here we take the same flavors and make them into a breakfast-friendly smoothie. We keep the ingredient list short—just bananas, coconut milk, maple syrup, and nutmeg. Be sure to use coconut milk from a carton because it doesn’t separate when chilled like canned coconut milk.

Get the recipe for Coquito Smoothie »

Ultra-Tropical Piña Colada


[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

There’s almost a certain charm to the tanning oil taste of a mediocre piña colada, but we can do better. That means replacing the Coco Lopez with coconut cream, which we blend with ripe fresh pineapple, rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Freezing all of the ingredients before blending lets you cut down on the ice so that the drink is less diluted.

Get the recipe for Ultra-Tropical Piña Colada »

Peachy Rum and Coconut Frozen Blended Cocktail


[Photograph: Elana Lepkowski]

This cocktail sticks with the rum and coconut cream, but also adds ripe (or even overripe) peaches. To keep the drink from being too sweet we blend in Angostura bitters and serve with a float of dark rum. Like with our piña colada, we freeze the ingredients before blending.

Get the recipe for Peachy Rum and Coconut Frozen Blended Cocktail »

Amaretto Joy Milkshake


[Photograph: Autumn Giles]

This grownup take on an Almond Joy replicates the flavor of the candy bar with chocolate ice cream, toasted coconut flakes and almonds, and coconut cream. A splash of amaretto liqueur reinforces the nuttiness of the coconut without making the shake too boozy.

Get the recipe for Amaretto Joy Milkshake »

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