Another food that I was exposed to during my excursion to the Hawaiian Islands was coconuts. Coconuts are ubiquitous in Hawaii. One day on a walk to nearby beach, my friend and I came upon some coconuts that had dropped to the ground. The structure of coconuts is fascinating. The "meat" itself is found in an inner shell, the one with the brown, furry exterior. This brown shell is encased in a tough, light brown, outer shell. You literally need a machete to get through the 2 shells and access the coconut. Today I had thought about writing about coconuts because I prepared chicken in a coconut curry sauce last night, but when I started to think more about the coconut, it occurred to me that there are many more issues to think about beyond the culinary applications of the coconut such as its health effects.
The health effects of coconuts are controversial. This is largely due to its saturated fat content. Saturated fat has been largely associated with cardiovascular disease and weight gain; however, coconuts contain some constituents that have health-promoting effects such as lauric acid and stearic acid. A recent study demonstrated that these constituents in coconut oil increased HDL levels, the "good" cholesterol. Coconut also contains specials fats, medium chain triglycerides, that easier to digest because they don't require bile for absorption. Coconut has a low-allergen potential and coconut-based milks and butter are great substitutions for those with dairy allergies.
I love coconut because it is such as versatile food. The oil is wonderful in cookies. The milk can be used for many purposes: the base of a smoothie, for sauces, in soups and stews. The meat can be shredded into baked products, and sprinkled on top of grains, custards and puddings.
Coconut curry chicken with plum wine
1 tablespoon extra virgin unrefined olive oil or canola oil
4-5 organic, pastured chicken thighs
1 can whole coconut milk
1 cup plain rice milk
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon raw honey or agave nectar
¼ cup plum wine (can substitute cooking sake or mirin)
½ tablespoon fish sauce
1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
Lime to taste
Heat sauté pan to medium-high, then add olive oil. Brown chicken thighs on both sides. Add coconut milk, rice milk, curry powder and stir. Then add honey and plum wine. Cover pot, turn heat to low and let chicken simmer for 20 minutes. Top off with fish sauce before serving. Garnish with cilantro and lime.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-5 empty stomachs
Copyright 2009, Genevieve Sherrow, Original Recipe.