I was curious about this Virgin Coconut Oil and all the fuss for some time now. There were shows and information spreading around about this 'healthy coconut oil' which is derived from Fresh Coconut instead of it's dried form, Copra which is a RBD Coconut Oil (RBD stands for refined, bleached and deodorized). I finally found some brands available at an organic counter. I chose a smaller bottle to start with as I don't know how it will taste or how good it's heat tolerance in cooking as claimed by many. Also, it's said that Virgin Coconut Oil has medicinal and beauty values ranging for human usage to your faithful pets!
Guessed what? I'm hooked! :-P I was surprised by the quality of this Virgin Coconut Oil... After I cooked with the oil, the sweet coconut aroma was still there and less smoky too when it's subjected to very high heat. I'm thinking of replacing recipes using butter with Virgin Coconut Oil (like coconut in cookies) instead as suggested by Toni Fiore of Totally Vegetarian fame. Then I got this idea of replacing recipe using coconut milk with evaporated milk and Virgin Coconut Oil. The evaporated milk to give a creamy look and Virgin Coconut Oil for the coconut aroma... LOL. I'm not sure about other foodies opinions about this replacement as not all recipes are suitable and I still feel that nothing beats the original taste of fresh coconut milk... well, once awhile it's no harm. Everything should be taken in moderation, right?
If you are interested to make your own Virgin Coconut Oil, you can look into Milyn and Peter Christopher's blog, Homemadestyle and Virgin Coconut Oil.Com.
Back to the recipe, here's a recipe I used my left overs from recent cooking. I also added extra Bird's Eye Chillies at the end of the cooking to give that extra kick of wake-me-up and for my chilli-crazy brother who visited me so early in the morning on Friday :-|
Serve with steamed rice and chillies!
Thai Pumpkin and Chicken Curry
1 small Pumpkin (any suitable pumpkin, about 500 g - 700g)
500 g Boneless Chicken Thighs - cut into bite-sized pieces
½ cup Thai Basil - firmly packed & chiffonade
To be blended into paste:
2 nos Shallots - chopped coarsely
3 cloves garlic - chopped coarsely
3 Tbl Thai Red Curry Paste
2 Tbl Water
300 ml Fresh Coconut Milk (canned or packed can be use)
2 Tbl Fish Sauce (Nam pla)
1 nos Lime (½ Lemon) - extract the juice only
2 tsp Palm sugar or Light Brown Sugar
3 Tbl Virgin Coconut Oil or Cooking Oil of your choice
1. Prepare the pumpkin; halved, seeded, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks. Washed and drain well.
2. For the curry base: In a blender, add in the garlic, shallots, Thai Curry Paste and water. Process until smooth.
3. In another small bowl, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
4. Heat up a pot or deep pan over medium heat. Add in 2 Tbl of cooking oil. Shallow fry the chicken meat until light brown (half cooked). Remove and transfer the chicken pieces into a bowl or plate. Set aside.
5. Return the pot/pan to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the curry paste and stir until fragrant (be careful the paste will caused the oil to splatter).
6. Add in the chicken meat and pumpkin. Mix well with the paste mixture.
7. Stir in the coconut milk mixture and bring to boil.
8. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pumpkin is tender and chicken meat is cooked throughout.
9. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with Thai Basil. Serve with steamed Jasmine Rice or your favourite rice.
If you're health conscious, you can use evaporated milk instead of coconut milk. What I did before was to use Virgin Coconut Oil to cook the curry paste. Then I add in evaporated milk. This gives you the fragrant coconut flavour and creamy gravy. You can adjust the hotness of Curry Paste to your liking if you prefer.