You can’t make a piña colada or a decent Thai curry without it, its water makes a great recovery drink, and its fibrous husk, when burned, repels mosquitoes.
These are just three of many excellent reasons to love coconut. One of nature’s most versatile products, the coconut plant (and its various parts) can be used for food and drink, cosmetic preparations and decorating.
Coconuts are also high in iron, magnesium, fibre and protein, and coconut products play prominent roles in gluten-free, soy-free and vegan diets.
Whether you’re stuck on a deserted island or comfortable in your own home, here is an easy-peasy recipe – courtesy of Chef Eoin Shiell from Capsicum Culinary Studio – and another recipe that makes good use of this versatile tropical wonderfruit.
Chef Eoin Shiell’s Coconut and Chia Pudding (serves 6)
For the Chia Pudding
1 tin coconut milk
1 tin coconut cream
1 tablespoon honey
4 teaspoons chia seeds
½ tsp vanilla essence (or seeds from ½ vanilla pod)
In a saucepan gently bring the coconut milk, coconut cream, vanilla seeds and honey to a boil.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the chia seeds. Allow to cool down and then pour halfway into your glass/mould/cup. Place in the fridge, covered, for at least 4 hours to set. The chia seeds will absorb the moisture and set the coconut at the same time.
For the Dalgona Coffee
4 tablespoons instant coffee
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons hot water
Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until it becomes fluffy and forms a whipped cream like consistency. Store in a sealed container or piping bag for up to two days in the fridge. Ideally whisk again before using.
Granola of your choice
Fresh strawberries sliced
Sprinkle the granola to form a nice even layer on top of the chia pudding. Place the strawberries on top of the granola. Spoon or pipe the Dalgona on last. Serve immediately.
Coconut Prawns (two ways)
500g large prawns peeled and deveined, tails intact
½ cup plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
coconut oil for frying (you can also use vegetable oil but taste is not as good)
Combine flour, salt, and pepper in one bowl. Beat the eggs in a second bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs and the coconut in a third bowl.
Dip the shrimp into the flour, then the eggs, and then dredge the shrimp into the breadcrumb/coconut mix, pressing gently to stick. Set coated shrimps aside on a plate.
Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a large pan on medium heat. Fry the coconut shrimp in batches – about 6 or 7 at a time. Flip after 2 minutes and fry the other side for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Place the finished coconut shrimps on a plate lined with a paper towel. Serve with sweet chili sauce.
‘If there are any leftovers they keep well in the fridge for two to three days.
½ cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup soda water
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Season prawns with salt and pepper and set aside
In one shallow bowl, add ½ cup flour for dredging. In another shallow bowl, whisk the batter ingredients together until combined. The batter should resemble pancake consistency. If too thick, add a little extra soda water and whisk.
In the third bowl, mix together the shredded coconut and bread crumbs.
Dredge each prawn in the flour, shaking off any excess, and then dip in the batter, again shaking off any excess, and coat in the breadcrumb/coconut mixture. Lightly press the coating onto the prawn.
Once done, arrange the prawns in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and freeze until firm (about 30-45 minutes).
In a deep frying pan, heat coconut oil (about 5cm-7cm deep) until hot.
Fry the frozen prawns in batches of about 6 to 7 for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain them on a paper towel lined plate.
Serve immediately with a sweet chilli sauce.
Spicy Coconut & Chicken Noodle Soup
100g uncooked rice vermicelli noodles
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup thinly sliced shallots
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 medium chilli, sliced
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 teaspoon ginger
1½ teaspoons curry powder
4 cups chicken stock
400ml coconut milk
3 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
500g cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast, shredded
170g sugar snap peas, diagonally sliced
1 teaspoon salt
½cup chopped fresh coriander
¼ cup chopped spring onions
¼ cup unsalted cashews, toasted and chopped
Cook noodles according to package directions, rinse with cold water, drain and set aside
Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, chilli and ginger and fry gently for about 4 minutes making sure not to burn any of the ingredients. Stir in curry paste and curry powder and cook for a further minute. Add stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
Combine 3 tablespoons cold water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture, shredded chicken breast, snap peas and salt to pan and simmer for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Place about a third of a cup of noodles in each of 6 bowls and top with 1 cup stock mixture. Garnish with chopped coriander, spring onions and cashew nuts.
Everyone’s Favourite Coconut Ice
250g sweetened condensed milk
250g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
200g dessicated coconut
red edible food colouring
Using a wooden spoon, mix together the condensed milk and icing sugar in a large bowl. It will get very stiff. Work the coconut into the mix until it’s well combined.
Split the mix into two and knead a very small amount of food colouring into one half.
Dust a board with icing sugar, then shape each half into a smooth rectangle and place one on top of the other. Roll with a rolling pin, re-shaping with your hands every couple of rolls, until you have a rectangle of two-tone coconut ice about 3cm thick.
Transfer to a plate or board and leave uncovered for at least 3 hrs or ideally overnight to set. Cut into squares with a sharp knife and pack into bags or boxes.
These will keep for up to a month if stored in an airtight container (if you can resist eating them for that long!)