Explore the Savory Side of Coconuts in These Soups and Stews
As a staple of many confectionery delights, coconuts have long been associated with sweet dishes. Yet many people do not explore savory uses of this creamy tropical fruit. Not only is the milk a welcome substitute for cream in many recipes, but it also adds balance while pairing well with a variety of ingredients.
Whether you’re looking to make a spicy shellfish dish, put a twist on a classic oyster recipe or make a colorful, comforting soup, explore the richness and subtle flavor coconuts can bring to your meal.
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The locally grown movement and a worldly eccentricity come together at Ponte Winery, thanks to chef Christy Moore. She combines obscure vegetables like spigarello, lollipop kale and red orach with other bounty grown nearby, including olives and olive oil from the property’s grove. Moore’s creative use of fresh ingredients and innovative touches add a little excitement to classic dishes.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2½ tablespoons minced garlic, divided
- 1 quart fish stock
- 1 16-ounce can tomatoes with juice (preferably Roma)
- 3 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup mango chutney (preferably Major Grey’s)
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste (preferably Mae Ploy)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- ½ tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons garlic, and cook, stirring, 45 seconds. Add stock, tomatoes with juice and 2 cups wine. Simmer 15 minutes. Add chutney and curry paste. Cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in coconut milk. Transfer mixture to food processor. Purée until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining ½ tablespoon garlic, shallots and mussels. Cook 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup wine, thyme and 2 cups of the tomato-curry broth, and cover. Gently shake pan occasionally. When mussels open, about 5 minutes, uncover and transfer to large bowl. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
The fresh acid and citrus notes of Ponte’s 2016 Rosé Spumante marry with the shellfish, while the bubbles cut through the rich curry broth.
Recipe courtesy White Street, New York City
Coconut milk takes the place of cream in this healthy update to a classic seafood stew, while ginger, nutmeg and seasonal herbs lend savory notes. The result? A perfectly balanced combination of ingredients.
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons minced shallots
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thin
- ½ cup onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- ½ cup celery, finely diced
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 pinch fresh grated nutmeg
- 1 pinch mace
- 2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
- ¼ sprig rosemary, picked and chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup white Port
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup crushed oyster crackers
- 2 cups good-quality chicken stock
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Salt, to taste
- 12 large oysters (or 16 small oysters), freshly shucked
- Dash of lemon juice
- Celery leaves, for garnish
- Fresh herbs, for garnish
Heat a large, heavy saucepan or stew pot over medium heat. Add butter, olive oil, shallots, garlic and onion, and cook until transparent. Add ginger, celery and cayenne, and cook for 2 minutes. Incorporate nutmeg, mace, thyme, rosemary and black pepper, and cook for 1 minute. Add white Port and cook for another minute. Pour in white wine, and cook until almost dry. Add oyster crackers and soften briefly, then pour in chicken stock and coconut milk. When it comes to boil, lightly season with salt. Add oysters, and cook for 2–4 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately. Garnish with celery leaves and fresh herbs. Serves 4.
A lively, vibrant Albariño, such as Vieira de Plata’s 2015 Albariño (Rías Baixas), with its generous aromas of pineapple sherbet and peach brioche, is an excellent partner for oysters.
Coconut milk, extracted from mature coconut flesh (not the “coconut water” found in young green coconuts), is a creamy staple in sweet and savory dishes from many tropical climates, including a number of Indian and Southeast Asian curries.
While it’s easy to make your own coconut milk—unsweetened coconut is increasingly available in large supermarkets and specialty stores—the canned variety works just as well. Just shake vigorously before using.
In this recipe, coconut milk adds richness and subtle coconut flavor to a comforting carrot soup. Winter squash can also be substituted for carrots.
(Note: Coconut milk in cartons, found on shelves alongside almond, rice, soy and other non-dairy milk, is essentially coconut milk that’s watered down. It has added stabilizers and thickeners to approximate dairy milk.)
Have some extra coconut milk leftover? Try your hand at the Komodo Dragon, a coconut cocktail that plays off the classic Grasshopper drink.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3½ cups peeled, chopped carrots (about 6 medium carrots)
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 cups coconut milk (not low-fat)
- 1½ teaspoons curry powder
- 1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- Salt, to taste
In soup pot over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onions, and cook until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes (reduce heat if too dark). Add carrots, and cook 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except garnish. Cover and cook until carrots are very soft, about 10–15 minutes.
Transfer to blender (in batches, if necessary). Purée until very smooth. Return to pot. Warm through, adding a little stock or water if too thick. Add salt, to taste. Serve hot, garnished with dollop of coconut chutney or pesto, if desired. Serves 4.
Put 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes in blender. Add 4 cups very hot water (just under boiling). Let sit 10 minutes then blend 2 minutes. Over large bowl, strain mixture through strainer lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze cheesecloth to extract as much liquid as possible. Refrigerate up to 4 days.
A Pinot Gris from New Zealand, like Amisfield’s 2015 bottling from Central Otago, will be a nice companion to this rich yet spicy soup. The wine’s round mouthfeel and ripe fruit notes of pear and muskmelon will harmonize with the sweet yet earthy carrot flavor. Bright acidity helps to lift the palate, while accents of cinnamon and ginger complement the soup’s spicy additions.
- 1Mussels in Red Chili, Tomato & Coconut Broth
- 2Oyster Stew with Coconut Milk
- 3Coconut Milk Carrot Soup