One of the most convenient ways to have the special qualities of coconut handy in the pantry, this Indonesian creamed coconut comes in an easy-to-use block which can be kept in the fridge and used as required. It can be used in a few different ways. First, diluted with water to make coconut milk or coconut cream – for ‘thin’ coconut milk, 120g of the block diluted in 500ml of water will work. Another way is to simply grate or add a tablespoon of the block direct into your dish. This second method is commonly used in the Caribbean, and helps produce a rich, thick gravy. A dilution of creamed coconut can be used as a substitute for tinned coconut milk, although it should be noted that using coconut block can result in an oilier dish – a little goes a long way.
One deliciously different way to use this is to grate some into the ‘icing’ mix (along with the cream cheese) for a cheesecake, especially one where there is a tropical fruit element involved. Or try making a dressing for an Indian-style fruit salad, mixing a couple of teaspoons of the block with honey, a splash of mango juice and a pinch of Chaat Masala – delicious!
Coconut in all its forms is a very common ingredient in South Indian, Southeast Asian, Caribbean and other cuisines from the tropics, and it matches particularly well with the ‘citrussy’ spices (such as lemon grass or kaffir lime) which these cuisines use so much. Another plus is that nowadays coconut is well known to be beneficial to your health, so having a block in your fridge means that you have flavour with a feelgood factor at your fingertips!