Canned coconut milk is like a secret weapon: It adds creaminess and thickness to a dish without relying on cream, and its lack of lactose means it’s a useful ingredient for those sensitive to or avoiding dairy. It can have a strong coconut flavor, sure, but when combined with other ingredients, it can also play a supporting role.
Stock your pantry up with a few cans and then take these recipes from our archives for a spin.
Stir-Fried Chicken With Lime and Coconut, above. It’s a simple recipe with bold, bright flavors. Serve this with extra fish sauce and lime juice on the side, plus plenty of rice to soak up the sauce. If you open a fresh can of coconut milk for this, you’ll have about half a cup leftover — freeze it and add to your morning smoothie, or save it for:
Dump Ranch Dressing. It’s America’s favorite salad dressing, after all. This one relies on half a cup of coconut milk for creaminess, plus olive oil and a whole egg (use pasteurized if you’re not into raw eggs). Keep it in your refrigerator for up to a week.
Lemon Rosemary Chicken Skillet. This one-pan recipe is adaptable to many proteins and herbs, and it takes a mere 25 minutes, start to finish. There will be plenty of sauce left in the skillet; serve with crusty bread or something starchy.
Squash, Spinach and Coconut Soup With Ginger. Thick, creamy, slurpable and a pleasant chartreuse hue. Bamboo shoots eat like noodles here; if your store doesn’t have canned bamboo, you could stir in some cooked thin pasta instead.
Beet, Tomato and Coconut Curry. This zippy dish has loads of flavor from ginger, jalapeño, cilantro, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. It’s a good transition from summer to fall recipe — it will taste best with in-season tomatoes — but come winter, you could use a small can of diced tomatoes.
Vegan Ramen Bowls. The coconut milk adds creaminess and body to the broth, which is full of mushrooms, baby bok choy and scallions, then topped with crispy, sticky, hoisin-glazed tofu cubes.
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