Coconut cream is a great dairy-free alternative that has many uses beyond just Asian-style cuisine. Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or you just fancy trying something new in your cooking, it might just be the ingredient you’ve been missing.
What is Coconut Cream?
Coconut cream is a rich, thick, creamy product made from the flesh of ripe coconuts. Its luscious consistency and sweet, subtly nutty flavour are achieved by grating the white inner flesh of mature coconuts, soaking it in warm water, and then straining the mixture to extract a dense, creamy liquid.
Is Coconut Cream Dairy Free?
Sometimes we use coconut cream simply because the recipe calls for it. But we may also wish to use it as an alternative to dairy. So how does it compare to dairy products?
In terms of texture, it holds up well, offering a thickness that closely mirrors that of heavy cream. This makes it a fantastic alternative in recipes that require a creamy consistency.
Flavour-wise there is no getting away from the fact that it does have a distinctive coconutty taste.
The nutritional content differs as well. While dairy products contain lactose and casein, which can cause digestive issues for some people, coconut cream is naturally lactose-free and is also vegan-friendly. However, it’s worth noting that it is high in saturated fats, and unlike dairy, it doesn’t have a significant amount of protein.
Is Coconut Cream Healthy?
On the positive side, it is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, E, and B vitamins, as well as several important minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and iron. It also contains lauric acid, a type of medium-chain fatty acid that’s linked to potential health benefits like improved immunity and heart health.
However, it is high in calories and saturated fats, which can be a concern for those watching their weight or managing certain health conditions. Additionally, unlike dairy, it has a low protein content. So, while it can be a part of a balanced diet when used in moderation, it may not be suitable for everyone, and it should not be regarded as a complete substitute for other nutrient-rich foods.
Cooking with Coconut Cream
So far, so good. But what can I actually do with it?
Coconut cream is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes across different cuisines. It’s a staple in many Asian recipes, providing a rich, creamy base for curries, soups, and sauces.
Its natural sweetness makes it excellent for desserts like panna cotta or coconut ice cream, while its thick consistency can be used as a dairy-free alternative in whipped cream or frosting recipes. You can even use it in drinks – anything from your morning smoothie to exotic cocktails.
But do remember to balance its rich flavour with other ingredients to prevent it from overpowering the dish.
Ideal for Savoury Dishes
It’s great in creamy soups and stews, where its rich flavour and texture can shine. For instance, a dollop of coconut cream in a pumpkin soup can really elevate its taste.
When it comes to curries, this ingredient is key to achieving that velvety, luxurious consistency we all love. Whether you’re making an Indian korma, a Thai green curry, or an Indonesian rendang, adding coconut cream will contribute to a deeper flavour profile and a smoother finish.
You can also use it in marinades, where it acts as a tenderizer for meats and infuses them with a hint of exotic sweetness. Try marinating chicken in a blend of coconut cream, lime, cilantro, and spices before grilling.
Great for Desserts
Coconut cream is a secret weapon to make your desserts indulgently dairy-free and delicately sweet. In baking, it can be used as an alternative in recipes that call for milk or cream, and it also works wonders in custards and puddings, contributing to a velvety, smooth consistency.
You can make a fantastic dairy-free whipped cream by chilling coconut cream and then whipping it, perfect for topping off pies, tarts, or fresh fruit. And let’s not forget about ice cream – a base of coconut cream will give you a beautifully creamy and luxurious ice cream, all while keeping it vegan-friendly.
Excellent Vegan Alternatives
Coconut cream serves as a versatile ingredient in crafting delightful vegan alternatives to classic recipes. Its rich and creamy texture makes it ideal for replicating dairy in a variety of dishes.
Use it in place of heavy cream in pasta sauces or risotto to achieve a creamy consistency without the dairy.
It’s also perfect for creating vegan cheese, such as a delicious vegan mozzarella or cream cheese.
In sweets, coconut cream can be used to concoct fudgy vegan truffles or to make a luscious vegan ganache. The possibilities for creative vegan alternatives are endless, proving that plant-based eating can be just as indulgent and satisfying.
And of course, in Asian Cuisine
In Asian cuisine, this is a staple ingredient that adds depth and richness to a variety of dishes.
In Thai cuisine, it forms the creamy base for popular curries like green and red curry, bringing a balance of sweetness to the spicy chilli flavours.
Vietnamese desserts frequently use it for its silky texture and subtle sweetness.
Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines use coconut cream in many of their traditional dishes, such as “rendang” and “laksa”, infusing the dishes with a unique, creamy richness that is both satisfying and indulgent.
Our Top 5 Tips for Cooking with Coconut Cream
Store Properly: After opening, store any unused portion in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will last for several days.
Shake it Up: The cream and liquid may separate, so shake the can vigorously before opening.
Consistency is Key: If it is too thick for your recipe, you can thin it out with a little water.
Temperatures Matter: When adding to a hot dish, try to warm it slightly before adding it to avoid curdling.
Flavour Pairings:It pairs well with a wide variety of flavours. It works well with spicy, sweet, savoury, and tangy flavours.
To wrap it up, coconut cream is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can enhance dishes with its creamy texture and subtle sweetness. It is also an excellent dairy-free alternative to milk and cream.
Our organic coconut cream is made without emulsifiers; nothing but coconut and water!
This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Organic Grocery Suppliers”.
See original article:- Coconut Cream: The Dairy-Free Alternative You’ll Love