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  • Deb Lindsey / The Washington Post

    Coconut milk, plus ginger and lime, flavor this salad made with callaloo, which has leaves that are both sweet and a little nutty-tasting.

  • Larry Crowe / Associated Press file

    This fruit salad, which has West African origins, is dressed with a coconut milk sauce.

  • Bill Hogan / McClatchy-Tribune

    The recipe for Brazilian coconut rice pudding is adapted from “Steven Raichlen’s Healthy Latin Cooking.”

More Information


    Here are just a few coconut products you might find:

    • Coconut, cultured: Similar in style to yogurts, kefir.

    • Coconut, dried: Can be sweetened or unsweetened.

    • Coconut, cream of: Sweetened coconut product mainly used in mixed drinks.

    • Coconut milk, canned: Thick product, in regular and reduced-fat (light) versions.

    • Coconut milk, refrigerated: Coconut cream plus water. May be fortified with calcium and vitamins.

    • Coconut oil: Coconut meat is pressed to produce the fat. Good for frying, sautéing.

    • Coconut spreads: Coconut oil is the primary ingredient; may contain other oils.

  • Caribbean seafood stew on rice Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes Serves 4 Developed by the Tribune test kitchen’s Corrine Kozlak. INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 1 / 4 teaspoon salt 1 / 8 teaspoon pepper 1 pound orange roughy or tilapia, in 1-inch cubes 1 cup each, chopped: onion, green bell pepper 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped 1 can (14 1 / 2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained 3 / 4 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk 8 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled, deveined 1 / 2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish 2 cups hot cooked rice INSTRUCTIONS

    Stir together 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lime juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add fish; toss to coat. Set aside.

    Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, green pepper, garlic and jalapeno. Cook and stir until onion is tender, 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and coconut milk; heat to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

    Stir in shrimp, the fish mixture and cilantro; return to boiling over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until fish just flakes easily with a fork and shrimp turns opaque, 5 minutes. Season to taste. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with more cilantro.

    Per serving: 474 calories, 19 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 142 mg cholesterol, 35 g carbohydrates, 41 g protein, 642 mg sodium, 3 g fiber
  • Brazilian coconut-rice pudding Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes Serves 8 Adapted from “Steven Raichlen’s Healthy Latin Cooking” (1998, Rodale Press, 368 pages). INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup golden or dark raisins 1/4 cup light rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract plus 1 / 4cup water 3 cups water 1 cup arborio rice, rinsed until water runs clear 1 stick cinnamon, 3 inches long 1 teaspoon vanilla 3/4 cup sweetened condensed skim milk 1 cup light coconut milk 2 to 4 tablespoons light-brown sugar 1 teaspoon each: grated orange zest, grated lemon zest Pinch of salt 1/2 cup toasted shredded unsweetened dried coconut INSTRUCTIONS

    Combine raisins and rum (or rum extract and water) in a small bowl; let soak, 15 minutes. In a large saucepan over high heat, combine water, rice, cinnamon stick and vanilla. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer, covered, until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 20 minutes.

    Stir in condensed and coconut milks. Add raisins and their liquid. Simmer, covered, until rice is very soft, 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, citrus zests and salt. Cook, 5 minutes. Add more sugar if desired. Cool pudding to room temperature. Discard cinnamon stick. Spoon into serving bowls or martini glasses. Refrigerate until cold. To serve, garnish with toasted coconut.

    Per serving: 309 calories, 6 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 58 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 68 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
  • Callaloo in coconut milk with ginger and lime Makes 4 1/2 to 5 cups (2 main-course servings or 4 side-dish servings) Callaloo is a variety of amaranth and is sometimes sold under that name. More local growers are beginning to carry callaloo; some Latin and Caribbean grocery stores also sell it. Or try making this with sweet potato greens, available at farmers markets and Asian grocery stores. Recipe from Washington food writer Emily Horton. INGREDIENTS 2 pounds callaloo (may substitute sweet potato greens) 2 tablespoons peanut oil 2 small serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced 4-inch piece peeled ginger root, minced 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into small dice 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons water 3/4 cup low-fat coconut milk Freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 lime (1 1/2 teaspoons) 1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped, for garnish Freshly cracked black pepper INSTRUCTIONS

    Trim the callaloo leaves from the stems; discard the stems and coarsely chop the leaves. The yield is about 4 tightly packed cups.

    Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, making sure it does not get hot enough to start smoking. Add the serrano peppers, ginger and garlic; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly golden.

    Stir in the bell pepper and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the callaloo, salt and water; reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook/steam for about 5 minutes or until the leaves are wilted and almost tender.

    Uncover and add the coconut milk; increase the heat to medium so the liquid is bubbling at the edges. Cook until the liquid has thickened and the greens are completely tender, 4 or 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.

    Serve hot, garnished with the peanuts and seasoned with black pepper to taste.

  • Fruit salad with coconut milk Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Serves 6 This unusual yet delicious West African fruit salad dresses bananas, tomatoes, avocados and pineapple with a simple sauce made from sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk. INGREDIENTS 1 cup sweetened condensed milk 1 cup coconut milk 2 bananas, cut into 1/4-inch slices 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1 avocado, peeled and sliced 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into bite-size chunks 1/3 cup lightly crushed salted peanuts INSTRUCTIONS

    In a small saucepan, combine the condensed milk and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer over low heat and let reduce for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl toss together the banana slices and lemon juice. Drain and discard any lemon juice at the bottom of the bowl.

    In 6 wine glasses, arrange the bananas, tomatoes, avocado and pineapple in layers.

    Top each serving with crushed peanuts, then serve with the coconut-milk sauce for drizzling over the fruit.

What’s Cooking: Nuts for coconut stuff

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013 - 12:00 am

Judging by the number of coconut products in supermarkets these days – beyond the flaked coconut your granny used in macaroons and ambrosia – we’ve gone a bit nuts for this fruit.

That’s right: The hairy brown ovoid is not a true nut but the stone of a drupe, which makes it related to peaches and plums.

Just check supermarket refrigerator cases, where cartons of coconut milks, creamers and spreads share space with cultured coconut products (think yogurts and kefirs). Or shelves, where cans of coconut milk, jars of coconut oil and coconut spray-oils nudge bags of shredded and flaked coconut. Or in freezers, where coconut milk desserts sit next to ice creams.

And depending on your coconut crush, there’s coconut tequila, vodka and beer, plus plain and flavored coconut waters based on the thin opaque juice found inside the fruit.

Of course, cooks in Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean have long used coconut milk and coconut oil to enrich dishes in the same way cooks elsewhere might use cream or butter. Some newer products are coconut creatures of a different sort. Canned coconut milk used in a Thai curry, for example, is not the same as coconut milks found in grocery refrigerated cases.

Which means it’s important to know what you’re buying (check ingredient and nutrition labels carefully), then don’t assume coconut products will work like similar dairy products in cooking.

Consider refrigerated cartons of coconut milk. “The coconut milk in the can is the one that tastes so delicious,” says registered dietitian Andrea Giancoli, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “You’re not going to get that deep coconutty flavor, taste and texture with refrigerated coconut milks.”

Still, Giancoli says the refrigerated milks work for smoothies and in cereals, and in “mashed sweet potatoes it would be divine.” And when she uses canned coconut milk in vegetable, meat and many traditional Asian dishes, she opts for the lower-calorie light version.

She’s a fan of coconut oil, spreading it on such fish as salmon or whitefish, so “as it cooks, it makes fish even moister.”

Read more articles by Judy Hevrdejs

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