The first time I learned coconut milk could be used in cooking (aside from curry), was when I was working at a restaurant in New York. For our pre-service family meal one day, one of the cooks made rice cooked in coconut milk instead of water. Blew. my. mind. I typically don’t eat that much rice (bad Asian, I know) but that day, I must have eaten two or three bowls worth.
Last week, on our trip to Zanzibar, after spending several days in Stonetown we escaped to a more remote part of the Island. On the eastern shore, at the Pongwe Beach Hotel, we enjoyed the beautiful blue waters, caught up on a lot of reading (him), and work that had piled up (me). We ate some excellent food, including mchicha (local spinach) stewed with coconut milk every morning as part of breakfast. We each must have eaten two or three bowls worth, each, every single morning.
Since we’ve been home, for the last two weeks, I’ve been recreating this dish using greens from our backyard and fresh coconut milk that I’m now making every few days. It’s not a chore to make this coconut milk, but rather, a craving and a necessity.
These greens that are stewed in coconut milk resemble, in many ways, the familiar collard greens dish of the south, with fatty coconut milk replacing fatty pork instead (just for once, I’ll say that despite the lack of pork I think this version is better!). Having a hearty helping of greens for breakfast has put an extra bounce to my step in the morning. And it’s certainly making my old, staid routine breakfast options of oatmeal, granola, and toast seem so lackluster (and, so brown). Trust me, have two or three bowls of these coconut braised greens every day, and you’ll be hooked- and healthy- too.
Coconut Braised Greens
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- Three bunches of leafy greens- collard greens, kale, or chard will do just fine.
- 2 cups coconut milk
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Sautee yellow onions in olive oil on high heat until semi-soft, about three minutes. Add in leafy greens, season with a few pinches of salt, and give it a vigorous stir.
- Pour in the coconut milk, keeping heat on high. Allow the greens to cook in the bubbling milk until most of the milk is reduced, about 15 minutes. Turn heat to medium and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
- Season with plenty of ground pepper. Eat, two or three bowls.
– How to open a coconut, and