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5 Non-Curry Asian Recipes Using Coconut Milk

The coconut fruit originated in India and Southeast Asian and as such, so did coconut milk. An ingredient loved all across the world, coconut milk is renowned for its use in making many variations of South and Southeast Asian curries. However, a common struggle many people have is how to make use of leftover coconut milk or lacking inspiration to make use of this ingredient which they love. Outside of the typical coconut milk based curry recipes floating around, there are great ways to cook with coconut milk; from Eurasian beef stew to traditional Thai desserts. In this blog, we’re sharing 5 non-curry Asian recipes using coconut milk that are delicious and easy to make.  

Tom Kha Soup / Chicken + Coconut Soup  - Thailand

Tom Kha is a spicy and sour hot coconut soup made with coconut milk in Thai cuisine. If you’re familiar with Thai Tom Yum soup, Tom Kha has a similar cooking process and offers the same burst of flavour and aroma but with a creamier, thicker and more filling base of coconut milk. The coconut milk also makes this dish slightly sweeter which is a nice contrast to Tom Yum which is tarte and savoury. Tom Kha is popular among both the Thai people and tourists in Thailand. Check out our full recipe for Tom Kha Soup (step by step instructions and a video) with all the ingredients available to shop in 1-click!

Fish Moole / Fish Cooked in Coconut Milk - Indian

At first glance, anyone could mistake Molee to be something of a fish curry but don’t let appearances fool you. Fish Molee is actually a very mildly spiced coconut milk based fish stew (although some people still refer to it as a curry). This dish originated in South India (Kerala) during Portuguese colonial rule. Portuguese workers in Kerala couldn’t handle the heat and spice of local and traditional Kerala cuisine and so a woman whom the dish is named after, created this recipe with fewer spices and plenty of coconut milk to appeal to their taste buds. Today, Fish Molee is widely available across India and has also spread to countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. Traditionally served with appam or bread, Fish Molee is a great option for those of you who want the warmth of a curry without all the heat and spiciness.

500g Firm Fish Steaks
500ml Cups Light Coconut Milk
0.5 Tsp Turmeric 
1 Tsp Garlic Cloves (Chopped)
1 Tsp Ginger (Finely Grated)
1 Sliced Tomato (Optional)
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Oil

  1. On clean washed fish, rub turmeric and salt then set aside to marinade slightly. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions, garlic, ginger, curry leaves and chillies until light, soft and sauteed. Be sure to make sure they don’t turn brown or burn. 
  3. Next, stir in the coconut milk and continue  to stir while the pan comes to a simmer. 
  4. Follow by adding the fish steaks into the pan and slowly bringing the pan into a simmer again for roughly 10 minutes. 
  5. Add the last portion of thick full fat coconut milk, followed by the sliced tomato and  turn off the heat and allow the pan to heat the rest of the coconut milk. 
  6. Finally, season with salt to taste and serve with appam pancakes or bread. 

Beef Smore - Beef Cooked Coconut Milk Gravy - Sri Lankan

Ever considered putting coconut milk in beef stew? Well, that’s the beauty of this eurasian fusion recipe Beef Smore. This dish had a diverse background of origin, taking notes from a classic British beef stew, Dutch cooking techniques mixed in with flavours from Sri Lanka. The name of this dish, ‘Smore’ derives from the Dutch word ‘smoor’ which translates and refers to the method of smothering food in a thick gravy during the cooking process. So, simply put, Beef Smore is a slowly simmered piece of tender beef stewing steak, cooked in a creamy and spicy coconut milk gravy. Serve this dish the Srilankan way with rice or rice noodles or switch it up with a british twist and serve it with mashed potatoes. 

1.5kg Stewing Steak 
500ml Coconut Milk
1 Tsp Turmeric 
1 Piece Cassia Bark
1 Stalk Lemongrass
3 Tbsp Ceylon Curry Powder 
120ml Vinegar 
2 Tsp Salt
2 ½ Tbsp Ghee

  1. Pierce the meat well all around with a knife or skewer and put it into a large saucepan with all the ingredients except the thick coconut milk and ghee.
  2. Cover the meat and marinade mixture, simmering gently until the meat is tender. This should take roughly 1.5 - 2 hours.
  3. After that, add the 500ml of thick coconut milk and continue to cook uncovered for 15 minutes longer.
  4. Next, lift the meat out onto a serving dish. If the remaining gravy residue to too thin in the saucepan, reduce it by boiling rapidly while uncovered.
  5. Transfer the gravy into a pouring jug.
  6. In a new pan, heat up the 2 tbsp of ghee and return the meat to the stove. Frying on all sides to lightly brown. 
  7. Finally pour the gravy over the meat again and heat through. Serve hot with boiled rice or roti.

Khanom Kulai Takai / Coconut Milk Pudding - Thailand 

One of the simplest ways to make use of coconut milk is to make it into a pudding and that’s exactly what this traditional Thai dessert Khanom Thuai (also known as Khanom Talai) is all about. Khanom Thuai can sometimes be described as a ‘Thai coconut milk custard dessert’ but the custard part has nothing to do with the taste and everything to do with the texture. The base of this dessert is soft and sticky in texture, while the top is creamy and custard-like. 

This dish is a common household dessert in Thailand and is made with relatively simple ingredients such as coconut milk, pandan essence, rice flour, salt and sugar. Khanom Kluai has a lovely contrast between the sweet base and slightly salty topping which makes it so distinct and delicious. Check out our full recipe for Khanom Kulai Talai (step by step instructions and a video) with all the ingredients available to shop in 1-click!

Roti Jala / Malaysian Pancakes - Malaysian

Coconut milk is a key ingredient when it comes to making Roti Jala, a south-east Asian pancake snack or side-dish widely eaten in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Of course, like any pancakes you can use ordinary milk, however, that doesn’t compare to creating the authentic recipe using coconut milk which gives it a creamy flavour and lovely aroma. Roti Jala has a wonderful soft and chewy texture, and should never be brown or crispy. Traditionally these pancakes are eaten in 3-4 pieces and paired with Malaysian chicken curry or beef rendang as an alternative side-dish to rice. 

650ml of Coconut Milk
2 Large Eggs
11/2 Tsp Turmeric 
½ Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

  1. Thoroughly beat the eggs, then add the coconut milk and mix until well combined. 
  2. Add the flour, turmeric and salt into a large bowl and gradually add the egg and coconut milk mixture (tip: pour the liquid in the middle of the flour, whisking after each addition to avoid lumps).
  3. Once all the liquid has been added, beat the batter until smooth and lump free.
  4. Using kitchen paper or pastry brush, lightly grease a wide pan with oil.
  5. Use a 3 nozzle bottle or pierce 3 holes into the lid of a clean bottle, add in the batter ready to pour into the pan. When pouring into the pan, move the bottle around to allow the batter to create a ‘lace’ like pattern. 
  6. Cook until set and pale golden underneath, then turn the pancake and cook until the same on the other side. Fold and roll once cooked. 
  7. Continue this process until all of the pancake batter is used. 
  8. Enjoy the pancakes as a snack or serve with Malaysian curries such as Gulai Kambing (Spicy Mutton Curry).

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